Torah Thoughts – Ki Tavo
Parasha: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 - 29:1-8
1st Aliyah: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
This week’s portion talks about the First Fruits. In this 1st portion, Moses is telling the children of Israel that they are required to bring the food that they have grown, the first of the harvests, and they are to bring them to the Lord, YHVH.
Take note, these first fruits were NOT money. They were the first of their harvests, the fruit of their hands, and they were to be brought to the Kohen, the priests serving in that day. These were provisions for the priests and their families who served the people’s spiritual needs and served as intercessors between the people and YHVH.
As I write this, I am prayerfully choosing my words, carefully. I know that there are some who will not agree to my thoughts on this, because it doesn’t match what you may have been taught in the Christian church or possibly, not even in your Messianic congregations. But I ask you to for just a moment, take off your denominational glasses and turn-off your religious filters for just a moment.
Many teachers or preachers would use this study as a reason to pass a collection plate or take up an offering, however, I am not going to do that using this portion. Read on to learn why.
Side Note: [However, if you would like to share your zucchini’s, cucumbers, squashes, watermelon’s, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peppers, or canned harvests with us (we love strawberry rhubarb), please feel free to do so. We would receive your gifts gratefully and share the abundance with our community, but I digress.]
Before continuing with the main point of this Torah Thought, and not to belabor this point, but let us consider some biblical references on this subject and ask the question, “Is this still a relevant command for us today?”
- Who were the tithes and first fruit offerings given to?
- Abraham gave 10% to the priest Melchizadek (before the Levitical priesthood existed.)
- In Numbers 18:21-26, the tithes and first fruits were presented to the Levites.
- What was the purpose: to support the Levitical Priesthood, the widows and orphans and the poor.
- Was the Levitical priesthood replaced when Yeshua was resurrected? Yeshua, born of the tribe of Judah, was of the order of Melchizadek? (Hebrews 7:17 & 21) The Levites were released from their duties as priests upon their death.
- Those who are devout disciples of Yeshua, as the elect, We are called and one day will be Kings and Priests. (Revelation 1:6).
- Since, the Levites, who were the priests before Yeshua. They were commanded to take tithes and offerings from the people, according to the law, however, if they were replaced by one who was not of that lineage, wouldn’t there have had to be a change to that portion of the law? (Hebrews 7: 12 “For the priesthood being changed, there is made a necessity a change also of the law.”)
- If you or your house of worship does not subscribe to the idea that YHVH’s commandments ARE for us to obey today, and your Pastor teaches tithing, well, Why? Tithing is a commandment; it is part of the law. If the law was done away with, nailed to the cross like many “grace” teachers proclaim, then why would they teach that this is still relevant? (Test everything.)
- Let us consider what Yeshua said about tithing and giving:
a. Matthew 22:23-24 & Luke 11:32, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provision of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others…” Here, he does not say or even hint that tithing has been or will be done away with, but he scolds the Pharisees for neglecting the other weightier matters of the law.
- b. In Luke 18:11-14 in the story of the between the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other sinners, because he paid his tithes and offerings, and the tax collector who prayed for mercy. It was the tax collector who was justified. (Hmmm.)
c. Although, Yeshua’s thoughts on tithing were not a major point in His teachings, He did advocate giving. He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38. Here we see a promise connected to giving.
- Yeshua remains our High Priest and has not been relieved of that duty like the Levitical priests were through death. Yeshua told us that we should continue to give, and keep the other commandments, so then who do we give these first fruits to and how do we pay them? That question, I will leave for you to search out on your own. There is so much more on that topic, so if you would like to learn more about our thoughts on this, please watch the video, The Season of Giving.
But, there is more to this week’s study…
As the Israelite's brought their first fruits, they were instructed to say this:
“I declare this day to the Lord, YHVH, that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us.”
The people would do this as an act of obedience, because YHVH gave them the land that He had promised them. The kohen would take the basket with the first fruits and lay it on the altar before YHVH and the people would call out to YHVH and say,
"An Aramean [sought to] destroy my forefather, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there with a small number of people, and there, he became a great, mighty, and numerous nations.
And the Egyptians treated us cruelly and afflicted us, and they imposed hard labor upon us.
So, we cried out to the Lord, God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
And the Lord brought us out from Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awe, and with signs and wonders.
And He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the ground which you, O Lord, have given to me."
Wow? This commandment is incredibly detailed and specific. Now YHVH is not a micro-manager, but when YHVH gives detailed instructions, He genuinely wants His people to do it that way. The children of Israel were commanded to recite this each year when they would give their first fruits.
They were then to humble themselves and lie prostrate before YHVH and rejoice. They were to remember all that YHVH had done for them and given to them and their households, from the priests to the strangers (foreigners) among them.
One thing that really struck me these past few weeks in studying these Torah portions is that respect and gratitude are two virtues that Abba really values and desires. Just like us, we don’t want to be taken for granted, but Father made a way to make it easy for His people, and the strangers that lived with them, they have shown kindness to, by allowing all in their households / communities, to remember the things He had done for them. To remember and appreciate all that He has done, is really a grace for us, Amen? He has made a way for us to always remember so that we may stay in relationship with Him, and that is what it’s really all about!