March 13, 2023
“You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.”
Never miss an episode when you
subscribe & turn on notifications for YouTube!
“But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.” Deuteronomy 14:24-27 (NKJV)
You may recall the instance where Jesus drove the buyers and sellers from the temple complex. (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15-16, Luke 19:45) Jesus’ clearing the temple is a stark contrast to the weak, frail “Jesus” the world likes to put forth. Yes, God is love, and Jesus came to seek and save the lost, but The Lord is also known to be jealous and zealous for His people Israel and His bride, the Church.
Why was there a temple marketplace? Some people lived too far from the temple to carry their tithe offerings to the Lord. The Lord allowed them to sell their offerings in their hometowns and carry the money to the temple. Once in Jerusalem, they would re-purchase their offerings and present them to the Lord. While the presence of a marketplace was not a sin, the practices of the marketplace during Jesus’ day were!
At the temple in Jesus’ day, things had gotten way out of hand. The Levites were profiting from unfair money exchange rates and price gouging. They were like the gas stations next to the highway, whose prices are higher than the gas stations a few blocks off the highway. They were profiting from the worshipper’s ignorance and desperation.
But, what of the average Israelite’s involvement in this dilemma? Was the price-gouging solely the fault of the temple sellers? There is an interesting caveat to God’s message: Don’t forget the Levite.
The Levites were sustained by the peoples’ offerings. Today’s passage suggests a strong potential for the Levites to get left out. Could it be that the community of Israel’s slack devotion in giving tithes and offerings led to the Levite’s compulsion to price-gouge? Perhaps, this adds more gravity to Jesus’ statement when clearing the temple: My house is to be a house of prayer, and YOU have made it a den of thieves. I believe “you” refers to both Israel and the Levites. Israel robbed Levi of tithe, and Levi robbed Israel in the exchange. Consider the words of the prophet Malachai:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Malachai 3:8 (NKJV)
Let’s ask the Lord to reveal what we might be holding back from Him and the community of believers. Perhaps, revival begins with a change of our hearts and actions.
©Steve Wiggins 2021