Deuteronomy 14 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“But if the distance is too great for you to carry your tithe offering, since the place where the L_rd chooses to put His name is too far away from you and since the L_rd your G_d has blessed you, then exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place where the L_rd your G_d chooses. You may spend the money on anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or anything you desire. You are to feast there in the presence of the L_rd your G_d and rejoice with your family. Do not forget the Levite within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance among you.”
You may recall the instance where Yeshua drove the buyers & sellers from the temple complex. (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15-16, Luke 19:45) Yeshua’s clearing the temple is a stark contrast to the weak, frail “Jesus” the world likes to put forth. Yes, G_d is love, and Yeshua came to seek & save the lost, but The L_rd is also known to be jealous & zealous for His people Israel and His bride, the greater Messianic Community.
Why was there a temple marketplace? Some people lived too far from the temple to carry their 1/10th offerings to the L_rd. The L_rd allowed them to sell their offerings in their home towns and carry the money to the temple. Once in Jerusalem, they would re-purchase their offerings and present them to the L_rd. While the presence of a marketplace was not a sin, the practices of the marketplace were!
At the temple in Yeshua’s day, things had gotten way out of hand. The Levites were profiting from unfair money exchange rates, and price gouging. They were like the filling stations next to the highway whose prices are higher than stations in town. They were profiting from the worshipper’s desperate situation.
But, what of the average Israelite’s involvement in this dilemma? Was the price-gouging solely the fault of the temple sellers? There is an interesting caveat to G_d’s message: Don’t forget the Levite.
The Levites were sustained by the peoples’ offerings. Today’s passage suggests a strong potential for the Levites to get left-out. Could it be that the community of Israel’s slack devotion in giving tithes & offerings led to the Levite’s compulsion to price-gouge? Perhaps, this adds more gravity to Yeshua’s statement when clearing the temple: My house is to be a house of prayer, and YOU have made it a den of thieves. I believe “you” refers to both Israel and Levi. Israel robbed Levi of tithe, and Levi robbed Israel in the exchange! Consider the words of the prophet Malachai:
“Will a man rob G_d? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Malachai 3:8
Let’s ask the L_rd to reveal what we might be holding back from Him and the community of believers. Perhaps, the change the World needs begins with a change of our hearts & actions.
~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Daily Devotional, Thursday, June 26, 2014