Okay, so the first part of this chapter’s once more going through food rules. Don’t eat this, do eat that. I struggle with those parts. However, I did notice tonight that there’s a big list of birds – but when I was reading through it, it kind of clicked to me, these are all – I think – birds who hunt in some way. Eagles, Kites, Falcons, Hawks and so on are some of the most majestic birds, but they’re also birds of prey; and then you have vultures and ravens – both scavengers.
That was just something that stood out to me. Given the restraint a few verses later, not to eat anything that is found already dead, I think I see a pattern evolving.
But that’s just an observation.
The second part of this chapter talks about tithing.
I find it quite interesting, actually, reading this chapter. In the first section we read about the eating rules, and not to eat camel, or rabbit, or pig among other things. Then it goes on to tithing.
Now the reason I find this interesting is because of observations I’ve borne witness to in the modern church. There are a lot of rules and regulations laid down in these first five books of the bible, rules like no eating pigs, not to cut your hair in certain ways, not to wear clothing made of a mixed weave, stuff like that. In today’s modern world, it tends to be suggested that these rules were put in place for the Israelites specifically, and don’t really apply to us today.
However, particularly in modern churches, we certainly can’t say that about the tithe. I’ve sat in several congregations throughout my life, listening to someone giving an offering talk that makes you feel like you’re a sinner if you don’t put money into the bucket/bag as it comes around. God commanded us to tithe; so if you don’t tithe, then you’re cheating God.
This is why I find this chapter interesting, because in today’s world, well, we can discard half of it. We can eat what we want today. The second half, though? Certainly not. You must give your money to God by putting it in the offering.
Now, don’t misinterpret me – I am most certainly not saying that we should not tithe, and give back to God what he has given us. This isn’t because he needs it, or even because he wants it – it’s about the state of our hearts, though. It’s about giving back what we can, not for God’s sake, but for ours. A generous heart is a loving heart.
As I read this passage, though, something stood out to me.
Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. ~ Deuteronomy 14:23
The first thing that stands out here: Eat the tithe. Moses is actually telling the Israelites here to eat their tithes themselves. He adds, further down:
And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. ~ Deuteronomy 14:27
So what he’s telling the Israelites, is to bring their tithes back to the holy place of worship – I’m assuming he’s talking about the cities marked earlier, to be inhabited by the Levites. He doesn’t say to them, though, just to drop it there and go again. He wants them to stop, eat, and share with the Levites as well. This is about communion with God, both by actually coming to the place God’s chosen as a dwelling, but also by sharing with the ones chosen to serve God full time.
Secondly, I notice that it doesn’t speak about bringing a tithe in just so that they can be blessed more and given more. I know that there are verses in other areas of the bible that say in giving out of what you have, God will bless you in return, but this one doesn’t. This verse says that they should bring the tithe to God’s dwelling place, so that they will learn to revere him.
Apart from guilt trips of God commanding us to bring a tithe; the other great offering talk subject I’ve heard in my life is the investment opportunity. Give, give, give your money to God, because in turn he will give you more in return. It’s like some sort of pyramid scheme – the more you give, the more you’ll get back.
Yes, sometimes that will happen, but God’s blessing is more than just financial.
I do not say anything here to discourage people from tithing. This is a challenge in my life that I need to be more faithful with, I will admit that. I encourage anyone who reads this to consider in prayer and communion with God, to tithe – as I encourage myself at the same time. It needs to be, though, out of the right heart. Tithing is not something that should be done under pressure, guilt, or selfishness – it is a step of partnering with God; of coming in to God’s dwelling place and sharing with him.
So, learning a new language is not going to be easy. Especially one that’s so remarkably different to English.
I learned French in High School, and I still remember a few little bits and pieces. I can count, and introduce myself, all those kinds of basics, and can, sometimes, follow the conversation if I’m watching something occurring in French on TV, but for the most part, it’s pretty much gone now.
In part, it may seem a little early to start learning the Kazakh language – but let’s be realistic, it takes a long time to master even just the basics. There’s a few reasons behind this, though, other than just making sure that I have time to learn as much of the language as possible before actually going over there. The main other reason, though, is simply focus. Not only will learning the language and going through lessons on a regular basis help me to learn, but it will help me to keep my focus.
See, I’ve mentioned before about my own self-discipline, how I tend to be very good at coming up with ideas, even starting them – but it’s the finishing them that tends to be the problem. Well, the more I have to focus on, the more disciplined I think I’ll be.
It’s not the only project underway, I’ve also set myself the goal to finish at least the first two chapters of one novel I’m working on by the end of September. That’s twelve days to write – probably around 10,000 words – which is doable. It’s not even a thousand words a day. In fact, it’s pretty much one of these blog posts every day!
So I’m doubling my writing requirements. I can do that.
So this is where we find Moses being born, his mother hides him and then when she can’t hide him any more, she puts him in a basket and floats him out on the Nile river with his sister to watch over him. Serendipitously, the person who finds him just happens to be Pharaoh’s daughter, who of course is able to look after him with special privilege. There are advantages to being part of the power of the land – her dad makes the rules, so he also gets to make the exceptions!
She names him Moses – which I find interesting, since it’s a Hebrew name.
Moses, though, is raised under the guardianship of his own mother, who is then responsible to hand him over to the Pharaoh’s daughter when he gets older.
There’s something that stands out to me throughout the first half of this chapter, and that is the apparent lack of solidity amongst the Israelites.
For Moses’ mother to actually feel the safest option for her baby is to hide him in a basket in the Nile, I wonder, why couldn’t she trust her own people?
Which isn’t to be totally unexpected. If Pharaoh had made the law that all baby boys should be killed, think about what would happen. Even with the best community hiding programs, eventually one baby would be found, and taken from its mother – her sadness leads to jealousy and anger, and thus she turns on her family or friends – no one can be trusted any more.
That’s a rather extreme example, and maybe not what happened, but the point I’m coming to is that the Israelites were under very heavy oppression and pressure, and their relationships seem to be beginning to show cracks. Not just in that Moses’ mother chose to brave the Nile river rather than rely on her friends and family to help her hide her baby. It’s also shown in the next section, where Moses, as a grown man, stands up for one of his people. He kills an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew man, and then the next day when he approaches two Hebrews fighting, they don’t see that he saved one of their people yesterday, they just see that he killed someone.
When we come under pressure, it’s hard to stay solid, it’s very easy to see fractures start to appear, not just in groups, but as individuals as well.
But remember one thing:
So God looked at the Israelites and was concerned about them. ~ Exodus 2:25
God has concern, he does care, he does hear the groaning and the cries for help.