Rescuing the "Church" from Christianity

What Does Jesus Say About Having Leaders, Teachers and Pastors?
Jesus said there is not to be a single leadership authority among ANY of us except Yahweh Himself! Jesus is the "sole teacher" and "sole pastor." Therefore, we cannot call anyone other than Jesus our teacher or 'pastor'! All such roles of teacher, leader and 'pastor' are Jesus' roles as the King of Kings. No individual Set Apart Believer is authorized to claim any such role.
"And Jesus called to them and said to them, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles are their masters and their nobles are in authority over them. LET IT NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whoever among you desires to be great,
let him be a servant to you." (Matt. 20:25-26.)

"And they love the chief places at festivals and the chief seats at the assembly. And a greeting in the streets, and to be called Rabbi by men. But you should not be called 'My Great One' for
there is only one Who is Great and you are all brothers. And do not call yourself Father for your Father is one who is in heaven. And you should not be called leaders, because one is your leader, the Messiah. But he who is greatest among you, let him be a servant to you." (Matt. 23:6-11) [Note how both 20:25-26 and 23:6-11 have the identical phrase "shall be your servant," showing these two passages are linked.]

This proves anyone who takes the office of "leader," or "teacher" in place of Jesus over the brethren (Matt. 23:6-11) acts wrongfully -- acts improperly just as the "Gentiles who are in authority over" the people (Matt. 20:25-26.) "And I also have other sheep, those who were not from this sheepfold. And also them, it is necessary for me to bring them and they will hear my voice and all the flocks will become one. And there will be One Shepherd/Teacher." (John 10:16.) "But you should not be called 'My Great One'
for there is only one Who is Great and you are all brothers…." (Matt. 23:8) "And you should not be called leaders, because one is your leader, the Messiah." (Matt. 23:10) Hence, Jesus told us we are all equal, as one family of believers -- brothers and sisters. There is nothing implied in "brethren" other than an equality among all true believers. And there is only one "shepherd" (pastor) and one "teacher" -- Jesus Himself. As Amos Love said: "After trying for 1700 years, 'clergy - laity' still doesn’t work. Jesus said we are 'All' brethren. Matt 23:8 -10." (Amos Love April 26, 2010.)

Error of Structured Hierarchy Among Equal Brothers
In agreement is Dave Lililgren's 2007 article entitled "Pastor Jesus" in which we read his valid comments on Matthew 20:25-26 (quoted above): In verse 25, Jesus describes “secular” leadership by using terms “rulers of the Gentiles” and “their masters & nobles.” This type of leadership is based upon one’s position (“rulers”) in government and upon their greatness (“nobles” could also refer to their credentials) in exercising influence over others. It’s all about control (“lord it over them”) and the exercise of authority. Secular leadership is hierarchical, from top to bottom, with a “chain of command.” Tragically, Jesus in verse 25 is describing the leadership structure of many churches today. We have brought in “baggage” from the world (“the Gentiles” literally means “the nations”) and have organized Yahweh’s Fellowship of Set Apart Believers after a pagan model, replete with “boards” and “chains of command” and CEO’s (a.k.a., “senior pastors”). But Jesus emphatically states that this type of 'church' government is wrong: “It shall not be so among you” (Matt. 20:26a). This is not to be the way leadership functions in Yahweh’s kingdom. (Lilligren, "Pastor Jesus" (2007.)

Subterfuge of Jesus’s Principles By The Label of ‘Minister’ or 'Pastor'
What about if we simply call a single all poweful leader a minister? A servant? A slave? Does this label change the substance of what we are doing, and thus avoid Jesus' prohibition? NO. That would be playing a word-game, raising form over substance. Such nomenclature is simply a brazen circumvention of Jesus' commands. It seeks to create an office, which represents a single all powerful leader or teacher or pastor; an unequal "brother" who has taken Jesus' post among us.

This subversion of Yahweh's word is sometimes disguised by using a name synonymous with "servant" -- "minister" -- to induce us to believe we are not violating Jesus' command. But the standard 'minister' position does not simply humbly serve with the rest of us as all his equal, as we all know from experience. Rather, the minister is always
alone authorized to speak and teach. None of us can contribute during the sermon. No one can question or dispute the minister as he talks. We treat the minister as an oracle above us. Finally, no one but the 'minister' gets paid for his time in the service (except a few other church-leaders), thus giving the minister an unequal honor above the general members within the entire Fellowship.

Thus, this isolating of one individual to hold power over us and command wages under the title of "Minister" is a completely dishonest skirting of Jesus' meaning. It subverts Jesus' role. As Frank Viola and George Barna recently wrote in Pagan Christianity (Tyndale: 2008) at 75:

[T]he Protestant order of worship represses mutual participation and the growth of Christian community. It puts a choke hold on the functioning of the body of Yahweh by
silencing its members. There is absolutely no room for anyone to give a word of exhortation, share an insight, start or introduce a song, or spontaneously lead a prayer. You are forced to be a muted, staid pewholder! You are prevented from being enriched by the other members of the body as well as being able to enrich them yourself. Viola explains he was involved in a home "church" which was a weekly gathering and completely spontaneous in starting up hymns, prayers, readings, etc. Viola says when you operate this way, the headship of Yahweh emerges. When it is lacking, Jesus' role as leader is suppressed:

[T]he Protestant order of worship
strangles the headship of Jesus HaMaschiach. The entire service is directed to one person. You are limited to the knowledge, gifting and experience of one member of the body--the pastor. Where is the freedom for our Lord Jesus to speak through His body at will? Where in the liturgy may God give a brother or sister a word to share with the whole congregation? The order of worship allows for no such thing. Jesus HaMaschiach has no freedom to express Himself through His body at His discretion. He too is rendered a passive spectator. To support our ignoring Jesus' command, many people complain that operating without a formal leader or pastor is impractical. One responds: "I couldn't imagine a "church" run without some order." But you can have order without a single formal leader / pastor / teacher aside from Jesus. And why would we scoff at our Master Jesus' words without trying what He says? Here is my experience proving it can be done.

Paul & Barnabas At Odds With Jesus
So where did we get the idea of multiple pastors, ministers, and other officers lording over us? Guess? Paul says "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors (shepherds, Greek poimenas) and teachers...." (Eph. 411.) But Jesus said to the absolute contrary: "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd (Greek poimen)" (John 10:16.). Jesus uses the same Greek word for shepherd/pastor as Paul, but the singular while Paul uses the plural. Jesus' point is there should be no more than one. Paul's use of the plural is to convey a contradictory idea that it is perfectly ok to have multiple pastors.

And where do we get the idea that anyone but Jesus can serve as a leader over us too? "For though you have
countless leaders [paidagogous, lit. leaders] in Yahweh ...." 1Cor. 4:15

However, Jesus said: "
Neither be called leaders, for you have one leader, the Messiah." Matt.23:10. (Other translations render this as "master" (KJV) or "director" (YLT).) And where does the idea come from that these pastors/leaders cannot only lord it over us, but also can expect wages from us? Want to take a guess on that too?
In 1 Tim. 5:17, Paul wrote: "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of
double honor [euphemism for compensation for services/payment], especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." Then Paul uses a verse about not muzzling an ox, and then by nebulous logic Paul reads it to imply that churchgoers have a duty to pay the elders for their service. (1 Tim. 5:18.)

But I thought Jesus said to His disciples to
lay no cost on anyone they served? "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." (Matt. 10:8b.) This is intended to apply to all preaching and ministry works, for the words just before this were: "[7] And profess as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' [8a] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons."

Given the state of the "church" today, I guess Jesus' words are not important any more once Paul gave us the means of preaching for financial gain! Similarly, Barnabas who authored Hebrews (according to Tertullian) also contributed to the concept of powerful leaders and pastor-like figures in the almighty 'church':

Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. (Heb. 13:17) But Jesus said there were not to be "leaders" in the spiritual community. (Matt. 23:6-11, quoted above.) And Jesus said we were not to have rulers among us who rule over us like Gentiles do in their assemblies. (Matt. 20:25-26.) Paul/Barnabas are at odds with Jesus. Whom do you follow? Barnabas or Jesus? Paul or Jesus? I choose Jesus. Where and when did things change in the Set Apart Way? You would be surprised, but it took almost 400 years to erase laymen as the primary participants in their fellowships/assemblies. Thus, Pauline thinking of pastors, leaders, etc., eventually caused "pope Leo [b. 400-d.461], in an epistle to Maximus, bishop of Antioch, [to tell] him that monks or other
laymen, however learned, should not be allowed to usurp the right of teaching or preaching, but only the priests of the Lord [can teach/preach]." (Samuel Cheetham, A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (Burr, 1880) Vol. 2 at 1686.

was born the laity v. clergy distinction in the 5th century, and the superiority of a few over the church was formalized in violation of Jesus' words. Sometimes the [inauthentic] 1 Peter 5:5 is used to teach that 'elders' in a church are proper and we must submit to them. However, read the verse again: "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older." (NIV). Obviously, even though 1st & 2nd Peter are pseudopigraphic, to say this verse is about a church organization is twisting the verse. It is simply a moral command between young and old. It is not an organizational teaching about "church". It only applies in a setting as reflective of a principle that applies both inside and outside of the Fellowship.

The Overseer
The early fellowships of Set Apart Believers had a member known as the OVERSEER - what we today call a bishop. The early role is much different than we imagine. Sozomen and various scholars claim the early overseers of Set Apart Believers (as well as anyone else other than Paul) never 'preached a sermon' for the first 400 years of Christianity. At 'church', you prayed, read the Bible and sang. That was it! "Sozomen [says] at Rome neither the bishop nor any other were known to publicly preach to the public up to this time (440 A.D.)" (Cheetham, History of Christian Antiquities (1880) Vol. 2 at 1687.) " corroboration of Sozomen [says] that no sermon by any bishop of Rome are extant before Leo the Great [ca. 440 A.D.]" Id. This would mean that after Paul set the standard of public preaching, virtually no one in the church followed Paul's practice thereafter. (One might read out loud Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, but then Jesus alone gave the Teaching.) However, Cheetham found sparse scattered evidence that few christian bishops were said to give sermons from time to time, and sometimes others did as well. Id. Thus, it is quite obvious that “preaching a sermon is not something that came from the the original Disciples, Jerusalem Church, or any of the descendants that existed after the War [in 70ad] and the dispersal of the remnants of the Jerusalem Church. “Preaching a sermon” is something that came out of the establishment of Christian tradition only.

Likewise Viola and Barna in Pagan Christianity say that the first example (after Paul) of "preaching in the church" by a solitary person -- called the bishop -- came from Clement of Alexandria in the late second century AD. See Viola & Barna, Pagan Christianity (2008) at 89.)

We would expect exceptions because of Paul's example. But Sozomen and Valesius as well as Viola and Barna still make a good point about what was the general practice: no preaching by a solitary individual. The exceptions are even extremely rare in the early chrisitian church. Viola and Barna say that "the sermon became a standard the fourth century." (Viola & Barna, Pagan Christianity (2008) at 89.) They point out that
this led to the strikingly similar pattern to the sophists of paganism who recruited disciples and then gave speeches on topics for a fee. Id. Thus, the fact the prevailing practice did not have a bishop (and no office of pastor at all) who sermonized raises an important question. Doesn't this reveal the original fellowships of Set Apart Believers thought it improper to give a singular leader (or anyone else) a position of such authority whereby he alone would be preaching repeatedly week after week, thereby controlling thought and content of discussion?

Please note there was no office of pastor in the "early church" that survived Paul's mention of there being many 'pastors' in the churches which he promoted. See Viola & Barna, Pagan Christianity (2008) at 110.) So the only possible early 'ruling' authority to study from post-Paul history is this position of 'bishop' aka 'overseer.')

Since history is correct about general practices, this supports a narrow role for an overseer / bishop. It is a role that would not violate Jesus' commands, as apparently the more Christ-centric early church even understood.

If the role of the overseer (aka bishop) is like a modern 'church secretary', the overseer sets out what might happen in an assembly meeting. The overseer has no authority to control the content of those speaking. That belongs to the Master Jesus and the movement of the spirit during prayer, discussions, and teachings. The group listening should interact, and then correct the one speaking by means of testing from the Scriptures.

The Bishop’s Role in Settling Doctrinal Disputes Was Non-Binding
In Acts 15, the Overseer of Jerusalem (James) was called upon to resolve a question of doctrine. The answer was given after consultation with the Set Apart Spirit (Ruach haKodesh), and taking testimony and holding a hearing with the original disciples. All opinions were heard first. The answer obviously had to conform to Scripture. James' goal was to find that answer after careful consideration of evidence and opinions. The conclusion was then placed in a friendly letter form. It was not an edict that threatened expulsion of anyone who did not agree. It did not say it was binding. The goal obviously was to let the probable view of Yahweh flow through the letter by asking for as much input from other believers as possible. In this way, the Overseer does not assume any authority above and apart from the Master Jesus. But such an opinion-letter reflected that the bishop could serve as a peacemaker--a role Jesus would approve.

What importance is there that Peter and the other eleven apostles stay out of the dispute? They provide testimony but do not venture any imprimature above the bishop James's ruling. The answer is we must infer James simply rendered an opinion as an elder to try to quell disturbance in the whole of Set Apart Believers -- as a peacemaker. His letter's authority depended upon its reasonableness and spiritual correctness. James did not decree that it must be followed merely because James uttered it. Hence, this episode reveals a bishop could try to settle a doctrinal dispute by making what was hoped to be a persuasive non-binding decision. The original disciples were not acting in a superior position above James when he acted as Bishop of Jerusalem. Hence, there is no example of hierarchy in Acts 15.

Where Preaching By A Single Voice Leads
Incidentally, later, when preaching became a standardized practice after the 400s, the talks employed "rhetoric" which "speedily passed into mere unreal and factitious artifice;" the talks in [christian] "churches" became no more than "intellectual exercise." (Cheetham, History of Chiristian Antiquities (1880) Vol. 2 at 1689.) This is precisely the example set by Paul. His writings involve very clever rhetoric, with a high level skill in sophistry. And when Paul's example was fully elevated to a subject of imitation, this led the 'church meeting' to be absorbed in silly issues like predestination, eternal security, and other things that do not promote the true Way at all! These notions clearly promoted the opposite -- relaxation and lack of concern about sin. These intellectual lessons were also at total odds with our Master Jesus' words that try to stir our concern about sin by threatening our salvation for a "praxis" (practice) that is sinful. See Matt. 16:27 (Son of Man "shall give every man according to the praxis /practice of each.")

Good teaching & professing is instead about exhortation to obedience and love of Yahweh's and His Son Jesus' Word. By contrast, Paul typically turned 'church-time' (judging by his letters) into divisive intellectual discussions about nonessentials. (Perhaps he turned us over to doctrines inimical to the faith as well!) Paul also turned 'church' into an organization that would wield power to exclude heretics (Titus 3:10, 11) who did not share Paul's intellectual opinions about non-important issues. But Jesus said no, leave the tares in the congregation. And in some cases, Paul ordered the death of members in absentia for tragic sins. See 1 Cor. 5:5 ("deliver such a one unto Satan for the
destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" -- Paul is using the Mosaic language of 'destruction of the flesh' to instruct them to apply a death penalty to someone in relationship with his step-mother.)

Membership Records?
When Jesus preached to crowds, He ever asked whether someone was qualified to listen. There was no checking of membership status in any sense. This continued a long time after Jesus' resurrection: "Not until the second century did the Roman church develop an organization capable of expelling those viewed as 'heretics." (Richard I. Pervo, The Making of Paul: Constructions of the Apostle in Early Christianity (2010) at 351.)

Regardless, if the "church" is supposed to be about evangelism first, and fellowship second, how can we create formal tiers of people who can and cannot come to fellowship. (There is such a thing as 'shunning,' but that does not require any membership formality, as explained below.)

There is a second reason that no formal membership is necessary for "church". Participation cannot lead to expulsion. Jesus taught us against the Roman Catholic principle of excommunication of heretics. Jesus taught this in the Parable of the Wheat & The Tares. He told us to leave tares (heretics) in the congregation. See this link for further discussion. Carlstadt, the co-founder in 1517 of the Reformation with Luther, wrote in 1520 in Canonicis Scriptoris that "the threat of excommunication had no biblical foundation." (Saebo: 578.) The concept of shunning in Matthew 18 of wrongdoers is different. Those who do moral wrongs are to be confronted one-on-one personally first, and then by two or more witnesses. If no reconciliation is possible, then Jesus teaches to
shun them. Jesus did not say exclude such a sinful person from "church" -- a place where perhaps Yahweh's word would pierce his/her heart and cause repentance. The shunning, in fact, likely had the impact of making someone want to come to "church" for social acceptance, and would upon entry lead quickly to reconciliation with the person he or she offended. Excluding them from the fellowship is thus unnecessary and counter-productive; shunning can be done effectively without and within fellowship meetings. It is not intended to exclude one entirely.

Issue About Prayer During Meetings
One of the struggles in having "church" like this is the issue of prayer. Jesus taught: "And whenever you pray you should not be like the hypocrites that love to stand in the assemblies and on the corners of the marketplaces to pray that they be visible to the sons of men. And truly I say to you that they have received their reward. But when you pray enter your inner room and close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees in secret He will reward you in open. And when you pray, you should not be chatterers like the pagans, for they hope that by many words they will be heard. Therefore, do not imitate them for your Father knows what need you have before you ask Him." (Matt: 6:5-8.)

Jesus identified it as a wrongful practice to stand publicly in the synagogue or in the street and pray (even apparently quietly to oneself). This praying-on-corners is still done in Israel today. The defect was obviously that the penitent's prayer was to be seen by men to be penitent. You were praying on a street corner or "standing" at an assembly evidently to be recognized for such wholesome behavior. Hence, it is important to understand such practice to see the fault Jesus was condemning.

The cure to this fault is to pray at home in private. Does this principle extend to worship time? Yes but only as to a single individual's efforts to pray. Only then is the risk of self-promotion present. For example, notice the Psalms are songs which are also prayers. If done in a corporate way, a public prayer was certainly legitimate in the Bible. Thus,
a joint prayer is clearly appropriate. The "Lord's Prayer" even appears to imply a corporate usage was intended, "Our Father," forgive "us our" sins, etc. Hence, Jesus was not saying only to pray at home. He was saying do not stand as an individual and pray to be seen. Individuals who pray to be seen or heard are taking the risk of self-promotion. How do we avoid the risk of self-promotion when individual prayer in the most wholesome manner seems also to be possible in a "church' setting? My suggestion is that it is needful to keep the prayer rotation in the fellowship from one individual to the next so that no one violates the spirit of Jesus' command. If someone is praying to appear more important and sanctified, then there is a problem. There is no easy answer to this except the Fear of Yahweh -- when people are present talking to Yahweh, one would hope that people are mindful of Yahweh's displeasure of using prayer as showmanship.

What About "Elders"?
The 'New Testament' talks about elders. Elders are just that -- older men and women. We are never told that they are an "office in the church" or hold any power at all. As one modern evangelical author Benjamin L. Merkle (Baptist seminary professor) explains in Why Elders?: A Biblical and Practical Guide for Church Members (Kregel Academic, 2009): The New Testament does not tell us precisely how much authority the elders of the local congregation should have. We just imagine it is the same authority being exercised in the 'church' we attend today. But this is not evidence of what the reference meant in the original fellowships of Set Apart Believer.

An elder is indeed simply an older member of a fellowship, and whose years in life give him or her a presumed greater wisdom. Teach respect for elders generally, as the Scripture commands. This applies inside and outside of the Fellowship. Because all older members are elders, you can have an elder board, but then it is made up of everyone over a certain age, without any exception. There are no hierarchies in a true Set Apart Way.

How Jesus' Words Would Help Missions and Charities
If the "church" returned to Jesus' structure for the Believers of the Set Apart Way, the support for missions and charities both personally and financially would grow. This is because we would focus on the person in the empty chair --- Jesus -- and his Father's Word. The emphasis radically changes for Jesus taught us:
• to provide food, water and clothes to the brethren (in need)(Parable of the Sheep and the Goats);
• help our neighbor in medical need from a mortal condition (Parable of the Good Samaritan);
• to provide a tithe which if its original form were revived represents 66% of all donations going to widows and orphans --- the true ratio in the Original Testament (see article on the tithe);
• nothing about attending a 'church" or weekly worship service or creating an expensive worship center but instead Jesus taught that there was only one true temple and he foresaw a post-temple time of worshipping in "truth and spirit" without such a building expense
burdening us; and
• to go into all the "world" and "not hide our light under a bushel" and preach and teach "all that I (Jesus) have commanded you."

That the Christians in the apostolic age erected special houses of worship is out of the question, it didn’t happen and they never taught it should happen. As the Messiah of the world was born in a tent, and exalted on a mountain, so his disciples and their successors down to the fourth century, taught and professed in the streets, the markets, on mountains, in ships, sepulchres, caves, and deserts, and in the humblest private dwellings. But how many thousands of costly "churches and chapels" have since been built in all parts of the world to the honor of the crucified Redeemer? Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Scribner: 1859) at 127. The first mention of 'to go to church' appears in 190 AD -- in a letter by Clement of Alexandria. (Viola & Barna, Pagan Christianity (Tyndale: 2008 ) at 12.) But even then it "refers to a private home that the second-century churches used for their meetings." Id. New Testament scholar Graydon F. Synder explains why we can affirm there were no 'church' buildings until under Emperor Constantine in the 300s: There is no literary evidence nor archaeological indication that any such home was converted into an extant 'church' building. Nor is there any extent 'church' that certainly was built prior to Constantine." (Snyder, Ante-Pacem: Archaelogical Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine (2003) at 128.)

The first churches consistently met in homes.
Until the year 300, when Rome conscripted and adopted Christianity from the Jesus Movement, we know of no buildings first built as a church. Besides homes, the early 'church' also met in "open places, markets and hired halls." (Id., 2003 edition, at 128.)

Thus, if we had Jesus' concept of fellowship (church), every time we would worship outdoors or in a home as a step toward different afternoon opportunities than we do now. Our money we collect would be used to gain friends for the kingdom. See Matt. 5:16 ("In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may
see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.") We would help widows and orphans, as was a main purpose of offerings commanded to Jews in their tithe. As a result, we would more often end up at a food dispensing service run by Believers for the poor. Or do some charity work where we could meet people who don't know God, but due to our charity, will give thanks to God and want to know about Jesus.

Jesus’s Example
Consider Jesus' own example. Did He start any building projects? Wasn't the only money handled by the 12 a money bag for the poor? Was this ever spent on administration costs of staff and a music team? Did Jesus stay in one place and show up week after week at the same synagogue to speak, or instead did Jesus largely give itinerant missionary messages to strangers in open fields? Jesus said He had no place to even lay His head.

This supports a minimal role for a "church structure" as the central hub of our attention. It does not erase it entirely. Jesus did several times attend synagogue services, and once He participated in the reading from Isaiah.
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The only purpose of establishing the false doctrine of "apostolic succession" is to force hierarchal authority and human intercessors. The so-called doctrine of "apostolic succession" perverts the structure of the original 1st century teachings of a Galilean Jew into a pro-government monarchy, with a divine human at the top and lowly serfs to serve at the bottom. Prior to establishment of the Universal Roman Church around the 2nd century AD, the original Jerusalem Jesus Movement had no succession nor conferred such successive titles or authority on anyone. The so-called "Apostolic Authority" started and ended with the 12 Disciples.
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A tithe in Hebrew means a tenth. Tithing in the Hebrew Scriptures was actually quite a light burden. (Deut. 14:23-29.). Its main beneficiary aside from yourself was widows and orphans. However, tradition added to it, making it unduly burdensome. Some interpretations within Judaism beginning in 1200 A.D. twisted Scripture to make it 20%. Now ten percent belonged to poor widows and orphans and another ten percent belonged to the rabbis. The clear meaning of a tenth was lost. It was cancelled by the traditions of men.

Then Christian tradition went one step further. It even has subtracted to whom God said it was mostly directed (i.e., widows and orphans). Christian tradition so modified it that God’s main purpose behind the tithe was eliminated altogether. Widows and orphans have 0% right to a tithe in the Christian version. Even the Jewish tradition of the tithe strongly protected the right of widows and orphans to the tithe. The Christian practice clearly contradicts Scripture. (Deut. 14:23-29.)

Even in the pseudopigraphic Acts at 21:21-26 it says original followers of Jesus are still bound to obey the Law and its traditions. If you treat this as a principle, then we certainly must pay the tithe. The true tithe of Scripture is easy: you pay in a three year cycle. The first two years, you bring it to the ministers within the assembly for them to then feed you from your own tithe. You have a big potluck party, celebrating God’s generosity with you. You and your family are to eat the dishes you brought to the party. You are to be joyful and have fun at Elohim’s generosity with you. (Deut. 14:23-26.) This is no more surprising than to find the Law obliged you to bring the first-born farm animals to Elohim. You likewise must “eat it in the presence of God.” (Deut. 15:20.) God loves you to give to Him so He can give it right back to you.

Then in year three, the tithe is directed 100% to widows, orphans and the ministers among us. (Deut. 14:26-29.) No one else can touch it. How should the third year tithe be divided? The Bible gives us no guide. To do justice, the division should be no less than pro rata so that widows and orphans receive some minimum share. This way they are not “robbed” by the leaders taking 100% for ‘church upkeep.’ We shall see below that Malachi 3 involved the leaders taking 100% and thereby robbing widows and orphans.

Sometimes, to avoid the charge of inconsistency over when the Law applies, Paulinist Christians claim Abraham tithed. Based upon Paul’s teaching in Galatians 4, they say we are part of that covenant. Thus, by endorsing tithing, they would say they are not insisting upon a return to the Law of Moses. However, Abraham’s tithe is not a legitimate example of the tithe they are advocating. His tithe was not on income or crops. Abraham merely gave 10% of his booty in war to the priest Melchisedek. (Gen. 14:20-23) He returned the remaining 90% to those from whom he took the items in the first place (Gen. 14:23).

So rarely do the tithe-advocates end there. Abraham’s tithe is an insufficient example. Randy Alcorn is typical. He cites Abraham’s example, but then he firmly bases his tithing instructions on the Law of Moses. (Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 2003 at p.174-75, 181.) There is no mention of tithing in the New Testament that is endorsed by Paul.

What about Matthew 23:23-24? In this passage, Jesus scolds the Pharisees for tithing on spices but disregarding “justice, mercy, and faith. Jesus says “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Sometimes Paulinists cite this and a similar story in pseudopigraphic Luke, saying Jesus “directly affirmed” tithing in this passage. (Alcorn, supra, at 181.) However, whenever anyone says this passage is another example of Jesus endorsing obedience to the Law, we hear objections from the same Paulinist Christians.

They claim Jesus in pseudopigraphic Luke 11:42-44 was talking ‘to a different dispensation.’ The Pharisees were under the ‘old covenant,’ and thus they had to upkeep the priesthood through tithing. Greg Kokl (a reformed thinker) will tell you that the law of tithing was therefore never truly repeated in the “New Testament.” You supposedly can safely ignore this passage where Jesus clearly endorses tithing. Why? It cannot be based upon Jesus’ words. For Jesus identified as a heretic anyone who teaches you to relax any of the commands in the Law given Moses; such a person is “least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19.) Scholars concur Jesus means such an anti-legalist is condemned to deepest damnation.

Kokl explains why we are free to ignore Jesus’ endorsement of tithing. Kokl says Paul teaches the Law of Moses never applies Christians in Galatians 4. To teachers like Kokl, Jesus’ words are made no longer applicable by the doctrines of Paul. Are we accepting a marginalization of Jesus’ commands to preserve how we understand Paul’s message?

Instead, the truth is that Jesus is being perfectly consistent in Luke 11:42-44 with His other statements. Jesus said not one jot or tittle of the Law will ever pass away. He did not come to abrogate the Law but fulfill it. Jesus extols those who teach obedience to the Law, and promises shame on those who teach against the need to obey the Law. (Matt. 5:18-19.) Jesus is instructing in Luke 11 and Matthew 23:23 that the Pharisees were correct to obey the Law’s command on the tithe. Yet Jesus also reminds the Pharisees not to neglect the weightier matters of the Law such as justice and the love of God.

Herein lies the inconsistency of Christians like Alcorn: they will insist that tithing is still a New Testament principle, but if someone cites this Synoptic passage to prove Jesus endorses the broader principle of obeying the Law (other than the law on sacrifice), they run from it. They then resort to the Pauline view that the Law of Moses does not apply to any Christian.

So now let’s explore the actual law of tithing. It may surprise you.
In Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Moses says God commanded a tithe to follow a three year cycle. The first two years, the tithe was collected at Jerusalem for the tithe-giver to consume in an assembly festivity. It was a big party. (The Levites apparently would host the event.) In the third year, the tithe for the year was stored up and then distributed to the poor (specifically “orphans, widows and the Levites”). To whom did you bring the tithe for distribution? The Levites to whom all the tithes belonged, as custodians and partial participants. (Numbers 18:21.)

However, the Levites’ successors (i.e., the Rabbis) of several millennia later saw an ambiguity in Numbers 18:21 (“I have given the children of Levi all the tithes of Israel....”) While this merely was a direction to whom to deposit the tithe in trust and for their partial consumption, the self-interest and bias of the Levites’ successors eventually emerged.

Consider how enormous is the financial incentive to mis-apply Numbers 18. If the 8,580 Levites of Moses’ day could convince the 603,550 male working-age adults of the other tribes to hand over 10% of their income, and each of the 603,550 were making $10,000, then each Levite would end up with $70,000 per year. In turn, Aaron would have an enormous incentive to encourage this result. Numbers 18 reminds the Levites to pay 10% of whatever they get to the three Aaronic priests. Each of them would end up with $20 million a year if you use the modest assumptions above.

These figures demonstrate how ludicrous would be a distinct Numbers 18 tithe in Moses’ day. For why in any imaginable just way could God put the Levites as part of the “poor” tithe in Deuteronomy 14? Why would God have made Levites share with widows and orphans a poor tithe? Yet, we are supposed to believe God supposedly made each of the 8,580 Levites like rich kings in Numbers 18 at the very same time (Numbers and Deuteronomy were written almost at the same time).

Moses is the author of both Deuteronomy and Numbers. I am sure he would have paused and asked God how can you regard Levites as worthy of a poor tithe when you are making each of them phenomenally wealthy. It just does not make any sense. Moreover, when you read the five books of Moses, do you come away with the impression that God wanted the Levites to be the super-rich among the Israelites? Do you ever get the sense that Aaron is a multi-millionaire when you read the Hebrew Scriptures? Nobody else has observed that either.

Nevertheless, Christian authors who realize this disproportionate outcome shamelessly defend it. They claim this extreme wealth of ministers is something God intended by giving the alleged Numbers 18 tithe. They say God intended extreme wealth for the minister class disproportionate to the working people. However, this makes no sense. The Levite had been given no land by God. To make up for that, God gave them a share of the tithe in the third year (and a lot of other fringe benefits that we will discuss in a moment). If the tithe is to be compensation for not having land yourself, then the tithe should bear some reasonable relationship to what you have lost. If God instead had a purpose to make them super-rich above all his neighbors, we would expect to see some mention of that. Instead, God had the Levites lumped in with widows and orphans in a poor tithe in Deuteronomy 14:26-29.

If God’s stated purpose is merely to make up for Levites having no land, then God’s providing a level of contribution in Numbers 18 as a distinct tithe in addition to the Deuteronomy 14:26-29 tithe makes no sense. This alleged priestly tithe would give each priest seven times the income that any one else is deriving from the land. It is as if the Levites are given seven times as much land than any other tribe. Such a disproportionate result clearly violates the intent God expresses in Numbers 18 that the tithe made up for the fact the Levites had no land. The alleged Numbers 18 tithe would have turned the Levites into barons far wealthier than anyone else. This actually appears to be the contrary of the purpose of the tithe, as God explains in Numbers 18.

Furthermore, if the tithe (tenth) really had been 20% (i.e., both the Deuteronomy 14 and alleged Numbers 18 tithes), then why did God call it a tithe (a tenth)? Why not call it a 20% and then specify how it is distributed in years 1, 2 and 3 by various divisions similar to what is laid out in Deuteronomy 14? Since God specified how Levites share in the tithe in Deuteronomy 14, He could equally have said how they shared in a two-tenths payment too. In other words, it is called a tithe both in Deuteronomy 14 and Numbers 18 for a good reason: it is one single tenth or tithe. What is overlooked is that God already specified a partial division to Levites in Deuteronomy 14. It was an unreasonable reading of Numbers 18 to assume God intended a new and exclusive right to a second tenth just for Levites.

Moreover, in God’s economy, why was it necessary yearly to give the Levites your tithe when the Levites were entitled to eat all the daily, weekly and annual meat sacrificed in the Temple from all eleven tribes—an enormous disproportionate benefit which the poor did not enjoy? (Lev. 7:1-7.)5 Some experts claim the value of meat brought to the annual sacrifices at Jerusalem was equivalent to bringing a new car from each family. The truth is there is but one tithe: the Deuteronomy 14 tithe. This is repeated in Deuteronomy 26:12. This eliminates any possible misunderstanding on how the tithe was to be used and distributed. It belonged to the Levites as God’s priests (holding it in trust and for their own good too). Yet, its distribution was supposed to follow Deuteronomy 14 and 26.

The main way of convincing people that there is such a thing as a distinct extra Levitical tithe is to quote Numbers 18 first. If the listener does not have the context of the earlier mention of the tithe in Deuteronomy 14, they can be duped. The listener is unaware God already defined the tenth to include the Levites in year three. There was no intent in Numbers 18 to define a second tenth. It was merely referring back to the tenth defined in Deuteronomy 14. It was necessary because Deuteronomy 14 did not say to whom the tenth was delivered. Numbers 18 merely cleared that up: the tenth (previously defined) belongs to the Levites. In year 3, the Levites were allowed to keep a share of the tithe for themselves (but that was not true every year.) God’s purpose is expressed clearly in Numbers 18: this will make up for the Levites not being given any tribal land themselves. It was not intended to make them super-rich which would be the result if you imagined the 603,000 male adults of working age of all other tribes started tithing to the 8,300 Levites. The Levites would be rich Lords, having seven times the income of any individual Israelite, as explained earlier.

Without knowing that context, you might wrongly assume Numbers 18 is speaking of a tithe only for Levites. By this tactic of quoting out-of-context, you end up with Alcorn’s conclusion that “the first and most basic tithe was for religious purposes, specifically to support spiritual leaders....” (Alcorn, supra, at 175.) Absolutely not! The first and only tithe is the Deuteronomy 14 tithe.

The history of tithing in Judaism proves the practice of Levitical tithing came late. It did not arise under Moses. How do we know that? First, from the math. If Moses and Aaron were taking down $20 million a year, we surely could anticipate grumbling from the same people who grumbled over manna from Heaven. We find no complaints in Scripture. Second, by the time Scripture closes with Malachi in the 600 B.C. period, there is not one mention anywhere in Scripture of the so-called Levitical tithe as Numbers 18 is now viewed to represent.

Instead, there is only mention of the poor tithe in Malachi 3. Someone was oppressing widows and orphans (Mal. 3:5). In the same context, God said someone was robbing tithes owed. (Mal. 3:8.) We will see below that it was the Levites who were taking too much of their poor tithe. (If the Numbers tithe was distinct and made the Levites super-wealthy, one has to wonder why God says they are plundering the poor’s tithe in Malachi 3:8.)

After the close of Hebrew Scriptures (Malachi), the history reflecting a Levitical tithe is surprisingly scanty. The Levitical tithe is not clearly mentioned by any religious authority as a requirement until 1200 A.D. The Levitical tithe is non-existent in the Talmud (100-400 AD).

Let’s look first at the pre-1200 A.D. evidence. First is Tobit of the Apocrypha. This book was written in 200 B.C. In Tobit 1:7-8, Tobit mentions he brought the Deuteronomy 14 tithe of years one and two. Tobit calls it the tithe for the festivals. It was deposited with the “ the altar.” Then Tobit mentions “of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem.” There is no mention, however, that Tobit did this because of any legal duty pursuant to Numbers 18. It is doubtful because in the very next verse, Tobit says he took another “tenth” and brought it to Jerusalem to spend. There is obviously no compulsion in that action, yet Tobit calls it another “tithe.”

Then Tobit says he had a “third tenth” that he brought for those “to whom it is my duty...for I was left an orphan of my father.” Apparently, Tobit meant the third year cycle tithe for widows and orphans. If you do the math, Tobit gave what he called “tithes” of 40%: 10% for the annual festivals, 10% every year for widows and orphans, 10% for the Levites and 10% for spending in Jerusalem. In light of the Talmud to follow, it is unlikely that this reflects any compulsory practice at that time. Tobit was very wealthy. He reflects perhaps what a rich Jewish person might do in that era.

Moving to the next possible source of Judaic practice, we turn to the Talmud (100-400 A.D.). Henry Lansdell did a meticulous review and summary of any mention of tithing in the Talmud in chapter eight of his book The Sacred Tenth. However, he nowhere mentions the Levitical tithe. He refers to the Deuteronomy 14 tithe for festivals as a “second tithe” (years 1 and 2). One should contrast it with the first tithe for widows and orphans. However, Landsdell nowhere explains there was any concept of a distinct extra 10% each year for Levites and/or ministers.6

If we do our own investigation of the Talmud, we find the same. Nedarim 84b of the Babylonian Talmud is informative. It speaks of the “poor tithe” of year 3. In that context it merely says, “konam [shall] be the benefit priests and Levites have from me.” This passage is referring to the sacrificial meat (konam) which the Levites could eat. (Leviticus 7:1-7.) By juxtaposing this with the poor tithe, it appears to be suggesting the Levites elected not to take their share of the poor tithe. They relied upon the konam, or sacrifice for all the food they needed.

Nevertheless, there is arguably a good reason why the Levitical tithe is not being mentioned in the Talmud. The Temple had been destroyed in 70 AD. There was thus nothing for the Levites to do any more. The purpose of the Levitical tithe arguably had ceased. Yet, this is false reasoning. The tithe would have been much more important for the Levites after the Temple was destroyed. The people no longer brought the sacrifices. The priests were allowed to eat all this meat once it was sacrificed. Now that this practice ceased, they would be absolutely dependent on a tithe. Numbers 18 says that the tithe and konam benefit for the Levites was because they had no tribal land. That remained true after 70 AD. So it does not follow that the Temple’s destruction destroyed the purpose behind the tithe. In fact, it made the share of the third year cycle of tithing for Levites absolutely essential for survival. If it were more than just that, such as a 10% tithe just for Levites, surely some mention would appear in the Talmud between 100-400 AD. Instead, there is no specific mention of it.

On the other hand, some claim Josephus (37-101 AD) mentions a Levitical tithe in Antiquities of the Jews, ch. 4, sec.3.7 If you read the quote carefully, this is talking of a specific event. It also is not speaking at odds with Deuteronomy 14 because there is a Levitical component to the third year tithe. The more significant evidence must be regarded as the Talmud, because it is an exhaustive recapitulation of all laws and traditions of the Jews as of 100-400 AD.

Further corroboration there was no Levitical tithe is early Christian practice. There was no early history of any Christian tithing to their own ministers. In the Didache, an early Christian document perhaps dating to 100 AD, there is mention of giving “first fruits” to prophets among Christians. However, a prophet is not the same as a minister or teacher. The Didache said what to do if there was no prophet: “if you do not have a prophet, give it to the poor.”8 Thus, Christian practice was to follow the poor tithe, and include prophets within that, just as the poor tithe included Levites.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on “Tithes” records the first reference by any Christian body to the tithe was in 567 AD. “The earliest positive [church] legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the cannons of the Council of Macon in 585.”

Then this was made Roman law in 785. The Catholic Encyclopedia on “Tithes” says “the earliest instance of the enforcement of the payment of ecclesiastical tithes by civil law is to be found in the capitularies of Charlemagne, at the end of the eighth century.” This was in the year 785. Charlemagne required every citizen to be baptized and all citizens to pay a tithe to the Roman Catholic church. Until that time, there is no record of a Christian tithe for the ministers/priests.

Please allow a small digression. This tithe to the Roman Catholic Church is how it became so dominant throughout the world. Instead of this church using it exclusively for the poor, the fantastic wealth it created was used in large part to finance church expansion and building projects at the expense of the poor to whom the tithe was directed by God Almighty. St. Peter’s basilica is a living testament to man’s foul use of the tithe. Constantine began its construction in 324 A.D. on the site of the Circus of Nero. The modern basilica was begun in 1506 and completed in 1615. The excessive expense on this building, while glorious to behold, is surely a stench in the nostrils of Elohim. The tithe for the poor was misused for the aggrandizement of the religious establishment who “devour widows houses” to make a show to the world. Proper repentance would melt the gold down, give it to the poor, and then rebuild a humble church on its foundation made of granite. This is the kind of church our humble Master would visit, not an ostentatious building made from tithes that belonged to the poor. In fact, the construction of this monstrosity of injustice is what compelled the Catholic Church to invent the notion of indulgences. These were sold to finance the basilica. The Church made a high pressure promise that underwriting the basilica by an indulgence would speedily free relatives from an alleged purgatory nowhere mentioned in inspired scripture.

For Jews, the first mention of any Levitical tithe was by Maimonides, a Jewish compiler of the Law and tradition around 1200 A.D. Perhaps inspired by Charlemagne’s imposition of a priestly tithe to the Catholic Church, Jews found such reasoning useful among themselves. Thus, in Maimonides, we find the first clear directive within Judaism to pay a Levitical tithe based on Numbers 18: a 10% tithe citing Numbers 18:24 (which I contend is an erroneous interpretation) and the tithe in Deuteronomy 14 (the true and only tithe).

These were self-serving interpretations of the Law. It added burdens of a 20% annual tithe that were not in the Law and could not possibly have been the original intent of Numbers 18. Christians should have followed Jesus’ example and tried to recognize burdensome traditions that were not part of God’s plan. Instead, inspired by Charlemagne and Roman Catholic practice, we speak of a Christian tithe of 10% to our churches.

However, modern Christians have engaged in even worse self-serving interpretations than Maimonides. At least Maimonides preserved the widows and orphans tithe. However, the Christian reformulation disregards this aspect of the Deuteronomy 14:22-29 tithe. This passage in Deuteronomy clearly specifies a widows-orphans-priest tithe every third year. There is no net tithe in years 1 and 2 (just a potluck in Jerusalem.) Rather than follow Jesus, who fought false additions to the Law, the predominant Christian view is annual tithing to ministers applies.

The predominant Christian view is we are bound to a 10% tithe just to support the Levites. This is then updated to apply to our new priestly (or ministerial) class. If we don’t, they cite Malachi 3 to say “we” are robbing God of His tithes. Who got forgotten in the Christian re-application? The poor tithe for widows and orphans disappears entirely. We have robbed God of the one tithe that actually was intended to reach someone other than the giver!!! We have robbed God’s purposes so we can give exclusively year after year to the one class (priests/ministers) who God intended to share only every third year with orphans and widows!

The Christian prevailing view is that we, the people, rob God’s tithes by not paying the priests, i.e., our ministers/ church. This is a very odd interpretation of Malachi 3:3-11. (See Alcorn, supra, at 174.) Of course, these teachers never quote or cite verse 3 of that passage. This passage, in its full context, tells you the Levites are the ones robbing the tithe that belongs to the widow and orphans. They are taking more than their pro rata share. It is not the people who are failing to pay their tithes who are the troublemakers who rob God, as our ministers like to present this passage to us. Let’s take a closer look.

Who is the “you” in this passage who is robbing tithes “from the whole nation” (v. 8) and “oppressing widows and orphans”? (v. 5.) Malachi 3:3-11 says the “sons of Levi” had to be purified. (Mal. 3:3). From the first to third chapter of Malachi, the you spoken of was almost exclusively the Priests/ Levites. See Mal. 1:6-8, (“priests show contempt for my name”), 2:1 (“O Priests! ...You have not set your heart to honor me”), 2:7-8 (“the lips of the priest ought to preserve knowledge...but you have turned from the way”), 2:17, 3:1-2. So when we get to the famous passage on robbing tithes, which is so often used to instill guilt in us (i.e., the people), the true intended jab is at priests. By the modern analogy, God is skewering our ministers if they are not protecting the tithe going also to widows and orphans by right.

In Malachi, it was clearly the priests who are the “you” who were “robbing” God of His tithe. In the same breath, God says these robbers are “oppressing...orphans and widows.” If you means the people were not paying tithes, as the predominant pulpit preachers teach today, then why doesn’t it say the Levites are being oppressed just as much as widows and orphans? Each were entitled to the tithe every third year in Deuteronomy 14:23-29. The only explanation that makes sense is the priests were taking shares of the tithe to which they were not entitled. (See Mal. 2:17, priests flouting God.) This is why the robbers caused oppression to the “widows and orphans,” rather than the oppression being on all three: widows, orphans and Levites.

Moreover, if the Levites too were being robbed and hence victims of the robbers, then why does the preceding verse talk of “purifying” the Levites? God is condemning them in the preceding verse as well as the first two chapters of Malachi. If God intended us to feel sorry for them over a non-payment of the tithe, this was an odd way to do so. One might even suppose reading Malachi that God wanted the tithe to stop going to such evil priests.

Again it is plain: in Malachi 3, the Levites are the transgressors of the tithe, not the public at large. They were the ones robbing God. They were thereby oppressing the widow and the orphan. They forgot the tithe that belonged also to the fatherless and the lonely widow. The spiritual leaders were devouring widows houses by these practices.

So how do Paulinist Christians defend insisting Chistians pay the tithe (as they read the Law in Numbers 18), but say the Law does not apply to Christians? Randy Alcorn in Money, Possessions and Eternity (2003) provides a mainstream Christian defense of the teaching of tithing. Afte citing Malachi, and talking in absolute terms about how the tithe belongs to God, Pastor Alcorn gets down to the law-grace issue. Randy claims he “detests legalism.” He means teaching the Law applies to a Christian. (Id., at 181.) He then acknowledges the strongest argument against tithing is the ‘law versus grace’ argument. Yet, he says just because we are under grace does not mean we “should stop doing all that was done under the law.” (Id.)9

Now if anyone used such reasoning about the command to rest on the true Sabbath (Saturday) or keeping the festival of Passover (which is a type of Messianic prophecy), such a teacher would be branded an heretical legalist. Yet, because Randy is talking of tithing, we move aside. The Church needs the cash. It has to make an exception. So Randy Alcorn then says “I believe there’s ongoing value to certain aspects of the old covenant.” (Id., 181.) I concur. But why? What is the criteria? Is it because Randy’s church needs money? Or is it because God’ word is still applicable today? Randy then says clearly, “we were never told that tithing has been superseded and ... Jesus directly affirmed it (Matthew 23:23)....” (Id., at 181.) Therefore, it remains God’s word. Precisely. Unless Jesus or a true prophet tells you some- thing in the Law has been rendered unnecessary, then it is still valid. If this is true for tithing, then this means the Deutoronomy test for what is a true prophet (Deut. 12 and 18) still applies. No one could ever have had authority to eliminate those tests from what is true prophecy. Any other additions (unless from a valid prophet) were unauthorized under Deuteroneomy 4:2.

So if tithing is valid on this principle, why was the Saturday Sabbath eliminated? On what basis was the observance of Passover eliminated? Jesus was our Passover Lamb. Why would we want to no longer commemorate that? If you claim Paul said these were superceded, on what authority that conforms to the Biblical standard of Deuteronomy 12 and 18 did Paul say so? The test clearly said that if the prophet comes with signs and wonders “but seduces you from following the Law” (Deut. 13:4), they are a false prophet. By definition, since Paul’s words in Galatians 4:20-30 seduce you from following the Law, Paul has to be a false prophet. He only survives if you presuppose he is a true prophet and he has authority to declare the entire Law (including Deuteronomy) an obsolete tutor from which we are released by the death of Christ. (Romans 7 & Galatians 4.)

Randy Alcorn closes his argument stating that “it seems to me the burden of proof falls on those who say that tithing is no longer a minimum standard for God’s people.” (Id., at 181.) Indeed! This is true as to all aspects of the Law. Jesus did not merely reaffirm tithing. Jesus reaffirmed all of it. Jesus gave as a kingdom principle that anyone who teaches against keeping the smallest command in the Law will be least in the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 5:17-21.)

Moreover, if the Law were intended to have no continuing need to be on the mind of a Christian, then Jeremiah 31:31 makes no sense. The New Covenant promised by God was based on making the Law even more strongly imprinted on the minds of all followers of God. It is nonsensical to base a New Covenant on something which is erased from our minds (and scorned as too burdensome by our anti-Law teachers) by the same blood that seals that New Covenant.

Finally consider the modern tragedy about tithing. The Christian concept of tithing has made a tradition out of a terrible version of the tithe. God condemned in Malachi as a sign of apostasy that priests (ministers) were robbing the poor widows and orphans of their share of the tithe. Yet, that is precisely what our modern ministers do. They claim they are entitled to all of it, and every year. Among Christian churches, the poor widows and orphans have no specific tithe dedicated to them, as God’s word on tithing actually required.

Randy Alcorn in Money, Possessions and Eternity (2003) gives us a glimpse on how doctrine ends up forgetting the true intended beneficiaries of the true tithe. Randy simply mentions and then promptly ignores the widows-orphan-Levite tithe. Mr. Alcorn mentions that the foremost tithe is for “spiritual leaders.” He means the supposed tithe under Numbers 18. Then in passing he mentions the tithe in favor of “the poor” in the third year of a three year cycle. (Id., at 175.) However, Alcorn never mentions the widow-orphan right to the tithe ever again in his book.

Instead, Randy focuses exclusively on the tithe for spiritual leaders. True, Mr. Alcorn does mention later that we should “give” to the poor. Yet, this exhortation does not emanate any longer from an obligation to pay a tithe. Rather, in regard to the poor, Randy encourages you to “meet God” in prayer and ask what He would have you do for the poor. (Id., at 215-217.) For the Pauline Christian, this is the same as saying do what feels right in your own conscience, rather than any “bondage” to the Law of tithing to the poor widow and orphan.

No wonder widows and orphans specifically fit into almost no ministry of any Christian church. We may give to the poor as a diffuse group. Yet, how often do we focus on widows and orphans? God showed us that among the poor, these two groups have a far greater legitimacy to an absolute commitment of ten percent each three years from God’s people. But we don’t do that.
What is the key verse in Malachi we should heed about tithing? “[Y]
ou are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” (Mal. 3:7.)
And from our Jesus' teachings:
Woe to you scribes and P’rushim! Hypocrites! For you consume the houses of widows, and that for a pretense you lengthen your prayers. Because of this you will receive a greater judgment. (Matt. 23:14).

1 Larry Burkett, the modern spokesperson on issues of Christian financial duties, explains this verse endorses tithing this way: “Those who encourage Christians to completely ignore the Old Testament and teach that Christians donʼt need to observe anything that the Old Testament commands are ignoring Jesus' advice.”

Greg Koukl writes: “Jesus' remarks occur before Pentecost. He was simply reinforcing the teaching of the Mosaic Law already incumbent on the Jews in virtue of the fact that the Old Testament economy was still in force....[T]he New Covenant teaching of Paul appears to replace the Old Testament tithe with a different directive. ”

2 The population numbers are in Numbers 1:2-3, 46 (603,550 men fit for war) & 4:47-48 (8,580 Levites who were ministering).

3 The Levites then tithed in turn to the Aaronites under Numbers 18. If you run the numbers as of Mosesʼ day using our prior example, this means that each of the three Aaronite priests received over $20 million. Why? Because if each Levite had $70,343, and a tenth would be $7,034, then tithes from 8,580 Levites means each of the three Aaronites received 1/3, or 2,860 tithes x $7034, or $20,118,326.

4 Avram is a Messianic Jew defending a ministerial tithe, and saying it must be paid as a duty among Christians.

5 The Levites were also given the half-shekel of silver for the redemption of every firstborn son among Israel (Num. 18:16; 3:44-48; Ex. 13:11-13, 15), and the firstborn of every animal (Lev. 27:26; Num. 18:15; Deut. 12:6; Ex. 13:11, 16).

6 Henry Lansdell, The Sacred Tenth reprinted as The Tithe in Scripture (London: 1908) ch. VIII

7 Josephus writes: “And besides this, he appointed that the people should pay the tithe of their annual fruits of the earth, both to the Levites and to the priests. And this is what that tribe receives of the multitude; but I think it necessary to set down what is paid by all, peculiarly to the priests.”
8 Didache 13:3-7, excerpted in full as “The Didache,” Lost Scriptures: Books that Did not Make it Into the New Testament (Oxford University Press: 2003) at 211, 216.

9 Larry Burkett, the major spokesperson today on Christian financial responsibility, puts it this way: “The second thing that creates problems for Christians related to the tithe is that most Christians have a misunderstanding of the validity of the Old Testament for today. I think that itʼs clear that the Old Testament has some continuing legitimacy for Christians today.”
Keeping the Right Day Is Paramount

Of all calendars, the true Biblical Calendar is one of the easiest to understand and the one True Worshipers follow today in observing Scriptural days. It is so logical that any rational person can easily comprehend its structure. It requires no complicated calculations or arbitrary rules to keep it aligned with the seasons of the year. It is a luni-solar calendar, which means that both moon and sun play a part in its construction. The rules for that construction come entirely from the Bible and are so simple that after reading them for yourself you should be able to understand and explain them to anyone.
Without an accurate understanding of His Biblical Calendar, YHWH’s people would be unable to obey Him. YHWH told his people they were to assemble at certain times of the year to observe His Feast days, and He did not mention “April” or “October” or any of our other Gregorian calendar months. He used words like “the tenth day of the first month” and “the first day of the seventh month” to pin down Feast day observances (moedim in Hebrew). He says, “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbears to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of YHWH in his appointed time, that man shall bear his sin” (Num. 9:13).
We learn that YHWH instructs us to observe all His feast days at precise times (Lev. 23:2), not holidays of our making at times we choose. We sin if we don’t observe them at the commanded day and time. For we who believe True Worship means keeping YHWH’s commands, how do we determine when the fifteenth day of the seventh month is (Feast of Tabernacles)? There are varied arguments among various Feast keepers about the correct day for Passover and Pentecost, and it is certainly prudent to prove what is right (as any good Berean would), rather than blindly accept the opinions of others.
YHWH tells us rather plainly how to deduce the correct days from a “calendar” in the sky. Note Genesis 1:14: “And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”
How Would YOU Create a Calendar?

Calendars record the days of the year, laid out in a format that usually spreads them over months and weeks (not all calendars use 7-day weeks, incidentally). A basic calendar relates four time elements: day, week, month, and year. Of these elements the
day is foundational. How does YHWH determine the length of a day? “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth... And Elohim said, Let there be light: and there was light. And Elohim saw the light, that it was good: and Elohim divided the light from the darkness. And Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:1-5. The New International Version of the Bible reads, “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.”)
One evening and one morning equal one day. Why did YHWH start His day at the “end” of it? We are so accustomed to starting our days at midnight that we think it illogical to start a day at any other time. What could be more illogical than midnight?
If you were living in ancient times and interested in creating your own calendar, at a time unencumbered by our modern society’s need to define and calculate everything exactly, would you not start your days at an easily observable time? What would you use as a starting point for the day? Noon is no good because it is hard to tell when noon is. Midnight is even worse. Sunrise is okay, but most people are asleep then, and even if not, determining just when the sun peeks over the horizon is much harder than determining when it drops below it because you can see it in the process of going down but not coming up. So sunset is a natural time to start, as well as end, the day.
Now isn’t that a coincidence? The Bible tells us exactly that: “The
evening and the morning were the first day.” In many places, including the first part of Genesis, Scripture tells us that days begin and end at sunset.
How many of these days do we string together to make a week? Why do we count off seven days, then, and call them a week? The Hebrew word translated “week” is
shabua, and it signifies completeness, or perfection. The week was also introduced to us early in Genesis (2:3): “And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Elohim created and made.” The word translated “rested” here is from the Hebrew root word shabath, Strong’s Concordance No. 7673 – the Sabbath. That YHWH uses a seven-day week is clear throughout the Bible (Lev. 23:15).
How many days would
you put in a week? Remember, you are an ancient observer and you are observing a couple of heavenly bodies for extended periods. The sun rises and sets and the days go by. The moon is doing something a little different. It also rises and sets but the amount of it you can see varies – sometimes it is not visible at all. But it does follow a cycle.
You notice over time that the moon starts as a very thin crescent on one side, gets fuller and brighter, then recedes to a very thin crescent on the other side. Then it disappears for a little while, only to repeat these phases. You count the number of days from one point to the next identical point and you notice there are about 291⁄2 days for the moon’s cycle to complete itself. But when do you start your moon cycle count?
You conclude that starting with the first crescent sighting makes the most sense and sidesteps unnecessary calculations. You decide to use this moon cycle for your calendar because just marking off solar days one at a time doesn’t seem to be of much practical use.
You also notice something interesting from watching the moon. From the time you can just barely see the new crescent until the moon is at its brightest (full moon) takes 14 days. Each quarter (first, second, third, fourth) marks a seven-day period. You decide this is handy – you can count days in a package of seven by looking closely at the moon. Surprise! That’s the way YHWH created it!
Does YHWH include months in His calendar? Again, as with weeks there are many Biblical references – but three are sufficient, starting with Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto YHWH Elohim: for in the month of Abib YHWH Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” In Hebrew, the word translated “month” is
Strong’s 2320, chodesh, which means “the new moon; by implication, a month.”
YHWH not only includes months, but He also starts them with the sighting of the new moon. This verse literally says, “Look for the new moon of Abib, and keep the Passover....” The Passover is to be observed on Abib 14 (Ex. 12:6): “And you shall keep it (the paschal lamb) up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”
The second reference to months and their timing is Psalm 104:19: “He appointed the moon for seasons.” The third reference is also in Psalm 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” Here the only feast that begins on the first day of a month (Ethanim) is mentioned – Trumpets. Other “chodesh” verses abound in the Bible (over 200 of them), all meaning “new moon.”
As you observe about a dozen moon cycles, you notice that the sun seems to be moving along the horizon at its setting time, going from south to north and back to south. As soon as you realize this, you pick out an object on the horizon near the setting sun, and in a few days you begin to get an idea about how fast it is moving away from your object. Over time you also notice the world around you is getting warmer, then cooler, then warmer again.
You count the days from the sun’s position at your marker object until it returns there, going in the same direction. Your count is 365 days. This number, representing the cycle of the sun, and the number representing the cycle of the moon (291⁄2), are not evenly divisible. A little basic math tells you a solar year will not exactly equal 12 lunar months. The difference between 12 months of 291⁄2 days (354 days) and the length of a solar year (365) will cause the four seasons to move around through the year.
This may be of no importance to you whatsoever – why should you mind if spring comes in the first month or the second month or the third month? But YHWH minds. YHWH told Moses in Genesis 12:2, “This month (Abib) shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Abib is the Hebrew name for this month, and it means “green ears” of grain. It is the month in which green ears of grain appear. But which grain? Turn to Exodus 9, where we read of one of the plagues YHWH visited upon Pharaoh.
“And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and YHWH sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and YHWH rained hail upon the land of Egypt. ... And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field...And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up” (vv. 23, 25, 31-32).
The grain that Abib refers to is barley, the one crop already “in the ear,” and the month in which the first Passover took place is Abib, the green ears of barley month. The month of Abib and the state of barley are tied closely together. If barley is not in the proper state at that month, that month cannot be Abib.
Turn to Leviticus 23. Here YHWH explains the concept of firstfruits to the Israelites, and tells us what shape barley must be in during the month of Abib: “And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings” (Lev. 23:14). The Israelites were not permitted to harvest their crops of barley until the firstfruit sheaf was waved before YHWH by the priest.
Barley is planted in November and takes about four months to mature. It must be in the green ear stage during the first month, and at least some of it ready for harvest by the time of the wave sheaf offering that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We know it occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread because these verses explain how to count forward from the wave sheaf to the Feast of Weeks. YHWH keeps the seasons aligned with the months by having us observe the maturing barley.

YHWH’s Calendar – Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4

We have worked our way through the rules for the Biblical Calendar and discovered that they are simple and logical:
1.Start and end days at sunset (Genesis 1:5). 2. Start weeks at day one and end on day seven, the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16). 3. Start months with the sighting of the new moon (Deuteronomy 16:1). 4. Start years in the month barley will be harvestable by the middle of that month (Leviticus 23:4-14).
These rules require you to observe YHWH’s creation – sighting a sunset or a new moon and looking at a barley crop. Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear YHWH: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” Is there a better way than to get outside and look at some of these awesome, timekeeping sights of creation?

The ‘Original’ Jewish Calendar

That the Biblical Calendar given by YHWH was with us from creation seems logical, but YHWH’s revelation of it to Moses took place just before the exodus, about 3,500 years ago, as YHWH explained the Passover, its significance and timing. In the first five books of the Bible, the Torah (all written down by Moses), the rules for the “original” Biblical calendar were given by YHWH to the people of Israel by oral and (later) written instructions.
Today’s modified Jewish Calendar, however, is one of the more difficult to comprehend. It has added and revised rules that move dates without Biblical authorization. The original Hebrew Calendar was the Biblical Calendar of the exodus. For over 40 years in their journey from Egypt to the Jordan River crossing the Israelites in the desert determined their years exactly in accord with the four rules declared by YHWH through Moses. What happened from then until now?
To answer that we will need to consult non-Biblical sources. Be careful! Unlike the rock-solid Word, there are many sources of “fact” written by men, and where there is man-made “fact” there is man-made counter- fact.
The Talmud is a combination of fact, teachings, traditions, analyses, ideas, opinions, and in some cases outright prejudice – which are considered “facts” by many Jews today. During the Talmudic period, observation of the moon and crops evolved toward calculation. First, the Israelites would have noticed that the new moon appeared either every 29 or 30 days – never shorter, never longer. Simple counting, then, gave them the ability to anticipate the actual observation.
After settling in the Promised Land they would have noticed something about the year, also. The maturation of their crops of barley could be correlated with the position of the setting sun on the horizon. The seasons are very important to agrarian peoples. Knowing proper planting times is crucial to survival, and fixing the beginning of a season, particularly spring, is advantageous. YHWH decreed that the year was to begin in the month when barley would be ready for harvest. The Israelites quickly noticed this happened very near or in the spring season, and that the beginning of spring could be determined from the sun’s setting position on the horizon. Over time the observation of the sun’s position replaced the observation of barley. The pagan Egyptians and later the Romans also observed a solar calendar.

Today’s Calculated Jewish Calendar

Beginning with their possession of the Promised Land, the Israelites became more scattered and communications with Jerusalem’s priests (who observed moons and waved grains) became increasingly difficult. Later, the Israelites of the dispersion generally took up the civil calendars of their conquering countries and were informed by messengers from Jerusalem of coming feasts. Certainly by the end of the Talmudic period, and most probably hundreds of years before, the Jews had accumulated sufficient knowledge to convert a calendar based on observation to one based on calculation alone.
According to the Apostle John, Yahushua’s Passover meal was eaten the night before the Passover meal was eaten by his Jewish accusers – this indicates that two ways of determining dates existed at the time of the impalement. That the new moon of Abib could have appeared on two different days is, of course, impossible.
In any case, the separation of Israel’s peoples made it increasingly difficult for those not residing in the Holy Land to stay in synchronization with their brothers. Indeed, after the failed Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 C.E. the Sanhedrin – the post-exile Jewish supreme council – was barred from meeting. Something had to be done to preserve holy day observance, and about 359 C.E. patriarch Hillel II revealed a method of Jewish calendar calculation that contained many elements obviously learned from places like Babylon. According to Hillel, and to the many Jews and others who believe that the methods of calculating this calendar were divinely presented to the Israelites, this calendar was in place from the very creation.

Here are some facts about the calculated Jewish Calendar:

· A month is determined by the calculation of the conjunction of the moon (Hebrew
molad, a point in the moon’s orbit exactly between the earth and the sun – and invisible to us), not new moon sighting; hours are added to the molad to determine when the new moon should or should not be visible.
· The first molad occurred 5 hours and 204
chalokim (3 1/3 seconds) after sunset at the beginning of day 2. · Every molad is calculated from this point by adding 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 chalokim.
· A nineteen-year cycle of months of 29 and 30 days is employed, together with leap months inserted in seven of the years, to keep the seasons in line with the solar year; the cycle consists of regular and leap years as follows: R-R-L-R-R-L-R-R-L-R-L-R-R-L-R-R-L-R-L.
· The cycle is not exactly the length of nineteen solar years – it is a little over 2 hours longer; every 216 years this adds up to a whole day, and there are no corrections in the calculations to prevent spring from moving away from Abib; if the calculated Jewish Calendar had existed at the beginning, this error would have already moved the seasons 26 days away from Abib.
· The year begins with the seventh month (Ethanim), not Abib; the first day of Ethanim is Rosh Hashanah.
· Postponement rules for Rosh Hashanah are required such that an annual Sabbath is never juxtaposed with a weekly Sabbath (prevents two consecutive non-work days); these rules are not simple – here is one of them:
if the molad of a year following a leap year which begins on Tuesday is later than Monday, 15 hours and 589 chalokim, Rosh Hashanah of the second year is postponed from Monday to Tuesday.
· The calculated molad can sometimes start a month
before the new moon is visible, and the postponements can actually cause a month to begin the day after the new moon is sighted.
· The entire calendar, from the beginning to any point in the future, is fixed by its starting point, the length of a molad, and the postponement rules; no observation is necessary.

No Biblical Basis for Changes in the Calendar

All these rules and calculations keep the seasons and the solar year rather closely aligned, without a single observation of a new moon or a series of sunsets. They are very handy for Jews but
not a single bulleted item we’ve noted is mentioned in the Bible, and using this calendar means you will be celebrating feast days at times different from those the Biblical Calendar specifies.
Did the perversion of the Biblical Calendar start in Talmudic days, or was it later, around Hillel’s time? YHWH confirmed the importance of the Biblical Calendar at the beginning of the Exodus (Lev. 23), and that is the time Satan began his work to pervert it. Isn’t it amazing how Satan has twisted everything in the Bible to his advantage? YHWH gave us laws to live by while Satan tells us they are just for ancient Israelites.
Because His Feast days are important to YHWH’s plan for mankind, Satan replaces them with those important to his plan. He also derails YHWH’s inspired calendar by man-made calendars.
If we must have a Messiah to be saved from sin’s death penalty, then the adversary causes churchianity to refute Him by convincing them to celebrate Easter! They take the very first feasting time of the sacred year and celebrate it with sunrise services, egg-laying rabbits, and leavened hot-cross buns. To top it off, Satan puts it on the wrong day. For those who escape this trap, he lays another one. When Numbers 9 says observing Passover on a particular day and at a particular time is very important, Satan confuses time itself.
If the bulleted items seem a bit convoluted and confusing compared to the four rules YHWH originally gave the Israelites, it is because they are. Whenever Satan works things always get complicated.

YHWH’s Calendar v. Jewish Calendar

Let’s sum up the differences between what YHWH said about keeping time and what the Jews of today do with the calculated Jewish Calendar. •YHWH said begin the year with Abib when crops are green and growing. Jews begin with Ethanim in the autumn.
•YHWH said begin Abib by checking the barley crop. Jews check the date of the vernal equinox and add hours. •YHWH said begin months by sighting the crescent moon. Jews calculate from a molad (invisible conjunction).
•YHWH said nothing about not putting two Sabbaths back-to-back. Jews create postponement rules. •The rules laid down by YHWH automatically adjust for what’s going on in the solar system.
The Jews’ calculations have built-in errors that must sooner or later be corrected. YHWH never said that months should be 29 days long or 30 days long or any exact number of days. He said new moon to new moon was a month, Isaiah 66:23. YHWH never said how many months were in a year, either – just that they started with new moons, Ezekiel 45:17-18. The words for “molad” or “equinox” or even spring, when used as a season, do not appear in the Bible.

The critical difference between the Biblical Calendar and the calculated Jewish Calendar is that they produce different days for observing the feasts. One is correct, the other is wrong. One obeys YHWH, the other does not.

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the major reasons offered by some for using the calculated Jewish Calendar to determine feast days and times, and their counterarguments.
• YHWH committed the oracles to the Jews and we should follow their lead.
This argument comes from the Apostle Paul’s writings to the Romans 3:1-2: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit
is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of YHWH.” What were the “oracles”? The proponents of the calculated Jewish Calendar include the rules for calendar-making in these oracles – but that logic could include anything they added, including the Talmud. In Acts 7:38 the same Greek word for “oracles” is used – (No. 3051), where it says, “This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Here oracles refers to the law given Moses on Mt. Sinai. The oracles or laws were all given to all of Israel as is recorded in Deuteronomy, not just to the Levites or to any one tribe.

• The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses seat, so we must obey them.
This argument comes from Yahushua’s words in Matthew 23:1-3: “Then spake Yahushua to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe,
that observe and do; but do not after their works: for they say, and do not.” According to Yahushua, this metaphor means they read the law to the people on the Sabbaths, just as Moses transmitted the law. Reading the law and doing what it says are two different things, as Yahushua pointed out, but this argument usually omits the part about “do not after their works: for they say, and do not.” Someone who says one thing and does another is a hypocrite. Did Yahushua follow the Pharisees’ interpretation of when the Passover should be observed (remember, they kept the Passover on the 15th)? Clearly He did not.

• The (Jewish Calendar) JEC is a complicated calendar, and although the rules for its construction are not given in the Bible, the Levites were given these rules in order for them to relay correct dates to the people.
That the calculated JEC is complicated is true. Its rules are not in the Bible, and it should not be logically concluded from this that they were given orally to the Levites. If the Levites were given the correct rules for calculating the Jewish Calendar, then why do their calculation tables today use a solar year that is 365.25 days long? That figure is about eleven minutes longer than the solar year really is. Also, the 19-year cycle is longer than 19 solar years by over two hours.
If YHWH gave the Levites the rules, why did He not also tell them the correct value for the mean length of a solar year, and also give them rules to adjust the cycle to prevent future problems with the months and the seasons? Why would a perfect Creator give out imperfect rules? And why would he have told only the Levites something so important? In just about every instance, when YHWH spoke to Moses, he started out with a phrase something like, “Say to the house of Jacob,” or “Tell the people of Israel,” or “Speak unto the children of Israel.” If you read the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, where the feast requirements are laid down, this is particularly true. There is no place in the Bible that says that YHWH told Moses to tell the Levites to in turn tell the people something.

Turn to Deuteronomy 1:3. Here, just before the people were to cross over the Jordan and into the Promised Land, Moses made his farewell speech to the Israelites. “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that YHWH had given him in commandment unto them.” Notice that he was not talking to the Levites alone, but to all the Israelites. Also notice the word “all” in this verse. It is the Hebrew
kole, Strong’s 3605, “from 3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense):— (in) all (manner, [ye]), altogether, any (manner), enough, every (one, place, thing), howsoever, as many as, [no-] thing, ought, whatsoever, (the) whole, whoso (-ever).” The root word (3634) means, “to complete, make perfect.” The verse does not say Moses withheld words for the Levites’ ears alone.

In chapter 16 verse 1 of this book is the commandment for observing the moon of Abib, to keep the Passover. It is very significant that Moses gathered every tribe together and explained again everything they needed to know before possessing the land. No one tribe or person was to have this knowledge exclusively. They all started out equally in the Promised Land. They would not be able to blame any other person or tribe for their mistakes.

• Not everything YHWH taught the Levites is recorded in the Bible.

It seems logical that YHWH could have said and done things not recorded in the Bible. But is it logical that YHWH would have omitted something so important to His worship, depending only on the instructions of a special group to relay his requirements? He never did that with any of His other instructions and commands.

• Postponements are not condemned in the Bible; the calculated JEC does not violate one Scripture.

In Deuteronomy Moses was making his wrap-up speech to the Israelites before they parted. Read Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHWH Elohim which I command you.” See also Revelation 22:18-19. If we are told not to add anything to the Word, and doing so changes the very day a Feast is observed, and as a result I am cut off from my people, it is clear I have violated something in the Scripture.

• The Bible does not define what a new moon is, so we are not instructed how to watch for the new moon.

This argument is made in support of substituting the astronomical conjunction for the actual sighting of the new moon.

Let’s look again at Deuteronomy 16:1, paraphrased as closely to the Hebrew meanings as
Strong’s dictionary allows. “Look narrowly for the new moon of the green ears of grain and keep the Passover.” Once again, Moses was speaking to all of Israel here. He told them to look for the new moon of Abib. He did not tell them to check with the Levites about molads. A molad (conjunction) as we have already learned, is when the moon is exactly between the earth and the sun. This argument substitutes the molad, which you cannot see, for the new moon crescent, which you can.

Imagine a desert-dwelling shepherd from the tribe of Dan trying to figure out when the molad of Abib would occur! He definitely would not have “looked narrowly for” a dark moon that he could not possibly see! Observing a molad means observing the sun, and that can be very detrimental to human eyeballs. Saying that we were not instructed in how to look for a new moon is ridiculous. Saying we are to look for a black moon is ludicrous. To equate the words “new moon” to “molad” is even more ridiculous. If I asked you to observe my “new car,” and I pointed to an empty parking spot, what would you think? Apply the same logic to the phrase “new moon” and then go out and try to spot the conjunction. It’s impossible.

The Biblical calendar can be projected, but it is confirmed only by observation of barley and the new moons. Just as YHWH planned when He created the “lights” in the sky, Genesis 1:14, we are to establish His appointed times (moed) by the monthly lunar cycle and to start at that particular time of year when the sun causes barley to grow and begin to produce grain in the ear.

When we follow the Scriptural calendar all the complications that calculated calendars try to overcome just disappear. And we rest assured that we are observing the days YHWH commands – at the proper time He commands them.