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PLAGUE

THE PLAGUE

THE PLAGUE:  “Require each of the men to pay money to me in order to keep him safe from danger while you are doing this [counting].”

In Exodus 30, if a person does not give a ransom for himself to the Lord, thus declaring himself to be separate from God and putting oneself outside God’s protective care, this person becomes stricken by a plague. There will be no plague among them who would give an offering. The word plague means “blow” or “affliction.”

In any case, this word implies a disaster in the Today’s English Version (TEV), and danger in the Contemporary English Version (CEV) that God would bring upon people who do not bring in an offering. It is also possible to combine the final two sentences of the passage to get a better context of it. Doing so, we can read it like this.

“Require each of the men to pay money to me in order to keep him safe from danger while you are doing this [counting].

Are you experiencing disasters or turbulence in your life right now? May I ask how are you handling your finances? Are you bringing in your tithe? If so, maybe it’s because you are not bringing in your târumah. When you are failing to do any of these things, in your actions you are saying you do not belong to God, therefore His hedge of protection cannot be around you. God is a gentle God. He basically lets you be when you reject Him, along with that His protection and favor can also be withheld.

The money offering received served as a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord. In the Bible, there are different kinds of memorials. When the people gave as they were numbered, the children are a witness to this act. As the Israelites obeyed, they are also teaching their children to obey. The parents’ act of obedience also serves as a blessing and inheritance to the next generation.  The next generation would know that they also belong to the Almighty God.

The parents’ act of obedience also serves as a blessing and inheritance to the next generation. 

 

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PLAGUE

RECEIVING THE PROPHETIC MANTLE

THE RESPONSE FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS (EXODUS 35:21–29)

THE RESPONSE FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS (EXODUS 35:21–29):

The response was excellent. The people immediately began bringing their contributions to Moses. Exodus 35 shows us that their hearts were stirred up, they were willing-hearted (Exo. 35:21-22, 26, 29). There were no gimmicks required. The instructions of God moved their hearts.

Târumah is given from nothing. God already provides what we are to give.

Like the Israelites, we are to give as we are enabled. Târumah is not given anything. God already provides what we are to give. God gives us the ability to give. You do not need to give anything that you do not already possess.

23-26  They came, both men and women, all the willing spirits among them, offering brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces—anything made of gold—offering up their gold jewelry to God.

Anyone who had blue, purple, and scarlet fabrics; fine linen; goats’ hair; tanned leather; and dolphin skins brought them.

Everyone who wanted to offer up silver or bronze as a gift to God brought it. Everyone who had acacia wood that could be used in the work brought it. All the women skilled at weaving brought their weavings of blue and purple and scarlet fabrics and they’re fine linens. And all the women who were gifted in spinning spun the goats’ hair. (Exodus 35: 23-26)

They already have these objects in their possession. God prepared them for the act of giving.

If you notice the verse above, they already had what they offered. They did not take the time to gather or save up for it first and did not have to go on an expedition to get these things. They already have these objects in their possession. God prepared them for the act of giving. They offered what God supplied.

 

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Raise as a Contribution So I Can Dwell Among Them

Raise as a Contribution So I Can Dwell Among Them

Raise as a Contribution So I Can Dwell Among Them:

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

-G.K. Chesterton

“Your happiest while you’re making the greatest contribution.”

-Robert F. Kennedy

Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 NRSV

 

A worship service in ancient Israel

In Exodus 24, God confirmed his covenant with Israel in a public worship service. This ancient worship service is similar to what we experience. It’s a call to worship, a confession of faith, a reading from God’s Word, and a celebration of communion.  It was all done in the glorious presence of the Lord on the basis of a blood covenant. Even by this day’s standard, it was a complete worship service.

The only thing the assembly did not do was take it upon offer. However, this is to be rectified in chapter 25. Moses went up the mountain again, as he waited for six days for God’s next instruction on what to do next. On the seventh day, the prophet was allowed to enter the glory of God.

The first thing God said was to take up an offering for the tabernacle. They were to set up a Holy Sanctuary so that God may dwell with His people.

Just like when we have a building project for our church, and we take up a special offering for it, the Lord commanded Israelites to take up an offering specifically to build him a sanctuary. The people were to fund the building of a sanctuary so that He can dwell among us.

Giving and Commitment

Giving to God is a significant sign of our commitment to Christ. Our willingness to give back some of what we own is a strong indicator of spiritual health. A Christian who is not giving is probably not growing. Stewardship helps a Christian grows. When a Christian is giving to the Lord, then he is exhibiting stewardship. A lot of Christians are embarrassed or timid to talk about money. They view their finances to be a private matter, and it’s none of the church’s business.

A person who wants to hear the Word would hear a sermon on giving because finances is an important biblical theme. More than 400 Bible passages talk specifically about money, and a lot more than covers principles for Christian stewardship. Exodus 25 is one of those passages. The instructions God gave a talk about the Christian’s duty to give our best to God — from each of our hearts — for his holy work.

 

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Raise as a Contribution So I Can Dwell Among Them

Tzedakah

The Tzedakah Spirit

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And, the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference once dies before one actually dies.”

Elie Wiesel

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NRSV

The distinction of Tzedakah (צְדָקָה)

There is a different kind of giving that emerges from the bible. Târumah can be considered tzedakah, especially when it is in the context of taking care of your leaders — people whose duty does not allow them to make a profit for themselves.

The word tzedakah (tsuh-DOCK-ah) is a Hebrew term that literally means “righteousness”. In the Jewish culture, tzedakah pertains to charitable giving or philanthropy. In Judaism, the weight of this word goes beyond charity. It refers to doing good to ensure that the needs of others are met.

In the context of the târumah, the giver does not only give to fulfill traditions or duties. Instead, there is a spirit that has compassion for the well-being of the priests, as servants of God. They are doing their part to serve their spiritual leaders. The tzedakah offering does not only include the târumah, but it refers to what we now know as a benevolence fund.

Tzedakah is a foundational spiritual practice. Tzedakah was a central obligation of Jewish life, whether the person is rich or poor.

The practice of giving is not according to a person’s economic station or spiritual accomplishments. In the Jewish culture, life begins and ends in tzedakah, and so it must not be an issue or a struggle. When a child is born, the Jewish father pledges a certain amount of money for the distribution of the poor. At the funeral, the mourners contribute coins to the beggars who swarm the burial area.

The tzedakah is practiced in order to remind the individual that at every turn of one’s life, giving is present. Every celebration or holiday is usually accompanied by gifts. In Jewish culture, generosity is a way of life. During holidays, they would pass around a box wherein coins are dropped for the support of different charities.

The well-off home has a series of boxes for different purposes. If something good or bad happens to the family, a coin is dropped in the box. The children are also trained in the habit of giving.

The father would encourage this habit by having his son give the alms to the beggar, instead of handing them over directly. Jewish people grow up with the gesture of giving becoming almost a reflex. How blessed is a person whose habit is to give, instead of to take?

Jewish people grow up with the gesture of giving becoming almost a reflex.

If we study the proper context of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev.19:18), it is not a command to feel as loving toward another as you do toward yourself, but to love your neighbor as part of yourself. Love is an action. It is about taking care of others, as you do yourself. Thus, giving tzedakah leads to the realization that there is no self or other —  giving to the needy is like taking money from your right hand and placing it into your left.

Tzedakah is a practice in which anyone can engage. Unlike the word “charity,” which has its origins in the Latin Caritas, “heart,” tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word tzedek, which means “justice.”

Charity is done by someone whose heart is awakened (Ruach), something not everyone has experienced.

Tzedakah, on the other hand, challenges you to be just. Even the person who has a scarcity-fearing egoic consciousness (Neshamah) can support this principle, since creating a system of just earning and use of finances protects you as well as others.
According to Moses Maimonides, a great medieval philosopher, there are eight degrees of tzedakah (with number 1 being the ultimate and number 8 being the most basic) still followed today:
  1. Seeing to a person’s independence by providing a person with a job, entering into a partnership that allows the person to establish a business, giving an interest-free loan, giving a grant.
  2. Giving tzedakah anonymously through a reputable third party and without knowing who will receive the aid.
  3. Displaying anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Showing publically to an unknown recipient.
  5. Offering without being asked.
  6. Allowing generously after being asked.
  7. Awarding gladly but not generously.
  8. Giving grudgingly.

The highest form of charity is when you prevent others from ever becoming poor, such as by offering a loan or employment or investing in someone’s business.

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Tzedakah

GIVERS

THE THREE KINDS OF GIVERS

THE THREE KINDS OF GIVERS:  In the Rabbinic tradition, the proportion by which a person gives reveals the person’s heart. The generous man — the man with a good eye — gives 1/40 of his income to the priest. In other words, he gives 2.5% to the priest, on top of the 10% he gives as his tithe.

If the income of this generous man is $10,000, then $1000 is given back as his tithe, and $250 is given to the priest as a heave-offering.

The fair man gives back 1/50 or 2% portion of his income outside of the tithe. Whoever gives 1/60 or below above the tithe is referred to as a stingy man or the miserly. In other words, someone who gives 1.6% or less of his income, outside of the tithe is considered tightfisted.

The generous man — the man with a good eye — gives 1/40 of his income to the priest.

The Târumah Offering Principle No. 11

A         [This is] the [required] measure of heave offering:

B         [If a man is] generous, [he separates] one-fortieth [of his produce].

C         The House of Shammai say, “One-thirtieth.”

D         And [if he is] average, [he separates] one-fiftieth [of his produce].

E         And [if he is] miserly, [he separates] one-sixtieth [of his produce]

A blessing is declared upon the entire increase by separating the târumah from the rest of the income.

The Târumah is producing that is separated from the harvest and given to the priest as a gift, and it is a personal thing for the giver. A blessing is declared upon the entire increase by separating the târumah from the rest of the income. Ideally, the person reciting the blessing must be able to hear himself say it.

Once it is separated the târumah is consumed by the priest and their families alone, and this food could not revert to the status of Hullin, or the food that is consumed by non-ministers.

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GIVERS

heart

God gives you the heart to be generous

God gives you the heart to be generous, and the means to be generous. God covers all grounds. When you limit your giving based on your current circumstance and the money in your bank account or your wallet, then you would be paralyzed. You are unable to part with your material wealth because you are relying on your own ability.

However, when you fix your eyes on the power and love of the Lord, then this opens your perspective to see the bigger picture. You are not the source of your generosity. Paul reveals the secret to generosity is simply stepping out in faith and giving.

Decide in your heart to be a cheerful giver.

God is the One who will bestow gracious abundance on those who give generously as it is that He will bless the generous with resources to give generously.

Paul defines the blessing of grace as having all sufficiency in all things. The term “Sufficiency”, which came from the Greek word autarkeia, is the state of possessing all that one needs so that he is able to manage without any help or support from others. Philippians 4:11 distinguishes the idea of “contentment” (as in Phil. 4:11).

However, it is an indirect result. The idea implies that the generous man curtails his own wants that he may be able to give to others, thus not being in want any longer.

A generous man is motivated by God’s own spirit of blessing.

The truth involved is probably close to that of Philippians 4:19, which is also expressed in the context of the Philippians’ generosity. Said in another way, a generous man is motivated by God’s own spirit of blessing. This man does not fear that God will leave him penniless. The God who puts it into a man’s heart to be generous with his material wealth will also ensure that his needs are supplied so that this man abounds in every good work. In other words, he is always able to contribute to the good work God intended for the church to do on earth

How to Give Your Heave Offering

Is the tithe the same as the heave-offering? The short answer is no. The heave-offering is often given in conjunction with the tithes (Lev. 7;14, 34) as a provision for the Levites. The Levites are the priestly tribe the Lord assigned to be ministers. They have no land of their own, and could not grow their own food.

Their life’s calling and vocation are to serve the Lord. They depended on the Lord’s provision through tithes and heave offerings (Num. 18:24, 29).

The heave-offering, like the tithe, is given from the person’s first fruits, that is, out of the first portion of the produce harvested each year (Num.15:21).

The heave-offering is designed and permitted to be consumed only by the priests.  According to Jewish traditions, only the proprietor was allowed to set apart the târumah. In other words, it is the giver who intentionally gives the târumah set apart for its purpose as a heave offering.

In ancient Israel, there was a sacred character to the târumah.

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heart

The Distinction of the Tărūmāh: What is a Heave Offering?

“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!”

John Wesley

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:42 NRSV

Have you ever heard about the heave offering?

You can find the term “heave offering” several times in the Old Testament specifically. It’s a way of presenting one’s offering to the Lord. It usually appears together with burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the offering of the firstborn flocks. The Mosaic Law requires the people of God to give the heave-offering.

Heaving is an action. It pertains to an upward movement. An offering is distinguished as a heave offering because there is a generic movement of lifting or heaving the sacrifice toward the altar. It is also referred to as separating a portion of the sacrifice from the rest. The “heaved” up portion was set apart for the consumption of the priests (Lev. 7:34) because God takes care of His ministers. Here’s a picture of how the process of the heave offering is done:

 27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:

28 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the Lord. (Exodus 29:27-28, King James Version)

The distinction of târumah

Târumah is a heave offering; it is a contribution of the believer to the ministry of God.

The Hebrew term “Târumah” (תְּרוּמָה [târuwmah or târumah), pronounced as ter·oo·maw is translated as “offering” appears 51 times,  “oblation” 19 times, “heave” four times, “gifts” once, and “offered” once. There is an interesting correlation between how this single word is translated into different Scripture and it gives us a hint as to how important this concept is to the Lord. Târumah is a heave offering; it is a contribution of the believer to the ministry of God.

Târumah serves as a call for the Israelites to bring to God what we understand as “gifts”.  In Scripture, we read: “The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me” (Exodus 25:1-2). In The Torah: A Modern Commentary, it reads like this: “you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved”. God uses His people to bless His ministers. It is because of God’s grace and will that the members of the Body of Christ bless His front liners in the ministry. It’s not because of the church member’s own generosity and wealth.

It is because God touches one’s heart to be generous and provides for him that he is able to give the Târumah offering.

A member of the church cannot say, “I am so generous to my pastor, which is why I am giving him my Târumah offering, on top of my tithes.” It is because God touches one’s heart to be generous and provides for him that he is able to give the Târumah offering. Otherwise, they cannot exhibit this generosity. This generosity comes from the Lordship the believer places himself under, in order to obey the commands of the Lord.

In the passage, after God enumerated the precious metals, stones, and materials that would constitute such gifts, God reveals the purpose of this command.[i] God said, “And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them” (Exo. 25:8). Do you want the Lord to truly dwell among you in your church? Then, you need to obey and bring in the Târumah offering.

People need symbols. They cannot fully grasp the concept of God because He is intangible and invisible. As human beings, we are used to understanding concrete things more effectively than abstract concepts. As a quest to make this human-divine partnership more tangible, the Bible presents the idea of making a sanctuary for God. The idea of gift-giving or donating to God is rendered so that human beings understand how they can express their worship and loyalty to the Lord.

The idea of gift-giving or donating to God is rendered so that human beings understand how they can express their worship and loyalty to the Lord.

Notice the words the author used in the passage from Exodus 25. The Scripture used “to take” instead of “to bring” in “Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering.”

Hold that thought for a second, and look at it from another angle. If we linguistically study this word, the verb meaning of “Târumah” is “to elevate.” Does this root meaning add anything more to our understanding of what’s going on here? Have you ever seen something elevate? If you’ve ridden an elevator before, it goes from the first floor to the second floor. It leaves the first floor and arrives on the second floor. An elevator that works cannot be both on the first floor and the second floor at the same time.

Going back, why did the verse say, “To take for me” The Bible talks about taking an offering, but why did it not directly say to bring your donations to God? A linguistic investigation shows us insights into human ways of thinking. There is a “Take and give” concept here.[i] In order to give something, it must be taken from ourselves. Said in another way, true gift-giving is about giving something up.

True gift-giving is about giving something up.

The Târumah is a heart offering (see Exo 25:2) that can be elevated.

The elevation here refers to the spiritual expansion because of the elevated nature of the gift. Throughout the Pentateuch, Moses is described as “going up” to commune with God. This suggests that through the gifts that the people of God give to the ministers, then all Israelites are able to ascend toward the Divine. They need to let go of something to get somewhere. As in the elevator illustration, they need to let go of being in the first floor in order to reach higher floors. In the context of the heave offering, it is letting go of a tangible object, in order to experience an intangible God.

 

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Are you ready for your abundant life?

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

God has prepared an abundant life for us. Did you know that? In life, we usually focus on all the bad things that happen to us. This causes irrational thinking and even irrational behavior. We tend to emphasize on situations that have gone wrong. It’s human nature to do this, but how is this benefitting the way we live?

We become cynical individuals thinking that nothing good will ever happen to us. We question God for “punishing” us and delve into self-pity.

Have we forgotten God’s Word for us? He has left us many assuring messages in the Bible about giving us the abundance that we desire. Have you heard about His prophetic Word?

There are a lot of Christians who have completely forgotten that God lives in them. Yes, the Kingdom of God lives in you. Once you have come to know and accept this, you are now able to go in the prophetic direction God wants for you. Knowing His prophetic word will enable you to turn the bad into good and gain a whole new perspective in life.

Do you want your free written prophecy? What has God prepared for you to do?

The power of prophecy will help you turn things around from the cynical believer to the empowered Christian you were made to be.

Know your personal prophecy today and make big changes in your life. CLICK HERE.