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Transitioning back into the Book of Nehemiah – We are deep into the second half of the book. Already covered the rebuilding of the wall; now we are picking back up in Chap. 10 dealing with the revival of the people; they have just expressed their commitment and rededication to obey their covenant obligations. We want to slow down and go into some more depth in the last 8 verses of this chapter.

4 Specific Regulations:

— understand the nature of obedience for Israel

— understand what principles to apply to our situation today under the New Covenant in the Church Age

Last time covered the first 2 Regulations:

1) (:30) Regulations Regarding Separation / Mixed Marriages

2) (:31) Regulations Regarding Sabbath Laws – once Christ has come as the fulfillment of all the OT types and signs and shadows, you don’t want to place yourself back under obligation to the OT law; people struggle today with the concept of the sabbath and how it should apply to us; you have the Seventh Day Adventists making this doctrine one of their key distinctives . . . that they feel obligated to continue to worship God on the sabbath; you have a large number of Protestant evangelical churches making a huge deal about the importance of Christians today observing the Lord’s Day (Sunday) as parallel to how the Jews needed to observe the sabbath; Reviewing what we covered on this topic – we need to slow down and make sure we understand this topic

Was God tired? Is that why He rested on the seventh day? Did He need a break because He was worn out? The sabbath is about the ending of a particular effort; God had completed His (Ex. 20:8) creation; also a foreshadowing of Christ coming to complete our Redemption (Deut. 5:15) – the Jews kept the day holy by putting their focus on God instead of on their daily responsibilities and looking both backward to the completion of God’s work of creation and forward to the completed work which the coming Messiah would accomplish and cry out from the cross: “It is finished”

Matt. 12:6-8 “something greater than the temple is here . . . For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Do we as believers need to continue to worship in the temple? Why is not this as big of a deal as whether we should continue to worship on the sabbath?

It’s not our connection to the right day; it’s not our connection to the right place (John 4); it’s our connection to the right person – the Lord Jesus Christ is the one we worship; we live by grace through faith to please Him as thanksgiving for the free gift of salvation we enjoy

That is the message of the entire Book of Galatians – we are free from the obligation to obey the law; we are no longer under the law;

Some will say that we are no longer under the ceremonial and civil provisions of the law, but still under the moral obligations – that carves the law up into thirds in a way it was never presented in the OT; we have been freed from the law as a requirement for how to live in order to please God;

that does not lead to license but to obedience to Christ – He has written a new law on our hearts – those moral provisions will still be the same – Do not murder, do not steal, etc. – but the observance of the sabbath had a distinctly OT Jewish flavor to it; never repeated in the NT —

Col. 2:16-17 “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

That is the message of the entire Book of Hebrews – Christ is superior in every sense … the mediator of a new covenant

Heb. 4:9-10 “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” – talking about the Jewish people as the people of God – the opportunity was still open for them to repent and fully trust Christ; for those who were genuine believers to persevere in their faith; to enter into the rest of spiritual salvation that will culminate in the rest of our heavenly inheritance — so that we fully enter into the benefit of Christ’s redemption and work on our behalf – Can you see how the Sabbath was a type – and Christ is presented as the substance and the fulfillment?

What about these sabbath regulations for believers today?

By application we see that the NT church made a point to assemble for worship, not on Saturday the sabbath, but on Sunday, the Lord’s day – as designated by His resurrection from the dead. This did not make Sunday “the new sabbath.” These Jewish Christians wanted to make plain their new life in Christ was not linked to their obedience to the OT law – Any attempt to enforce OT sabbath law is a step backwards with a serious loss of focus on the newness of life we now have in Jesus Christ. Cf Peter’s insight into the dietary laws – no need to place such restrictions on yourself in the church age – Acts 10:15 “what God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy”

Stedman: So the true sabbath rest is to rest on Another, and this is the divine provision to produce fruitfulness and abundance of victory in a Christian’s life.

It is still important to always put the priority on worshiping God; not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; make sure that our physical body still follows the helpful principle of 6 days of work and one day of rest and revitalization – but this is different from putting oneself under obligation to observe the OT sabbath laws; good thing for Chick-fil-A to close …

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” {Matt 11:28-30 RSV}

The final 2 specific regulations concern our Money – MONEY MATTERS


A. (:32-33) Regulations Regarding Shekels for the Temple Tax – Obligation to Support the Ongoing Worship Functions Associated with the Temple (the house of God)

“We also placed ourselves under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.”

Did you bring any shekels with you today? What is your obligation towards God with respect to your shekels? God has a lot to say about your money. Just because we don’t take up an offering in the service but have a box in the back instead does not mean that we are de-emphasizing our gifts to God as part of our overall worship.

One third of a skekel — About one-eighth of an ounce

MacArthur: The Mosaic ordinance required one-half of a shekel (see Ex. 30:11-16), but the severe economic straits of the time led to the reduced amount. By the time of Christ, the people had returned to the Mosaic stipulation of one-half of a shekel.

Yamauchi: Some argue that the later shekel was based on a heavier standard, thus one-third of the later shekel was equal to one-half of the earlier shekel. That is, the later Babylonian-Persian shekel was twenty-one grams, whereas the former Phoenician shekel was fourteen grams, hence one-third the former was equal to one-half the latter. . .

“bread of arrangement” – These were twelve cakes of fine flour arranged in two rows of six set out each Sabbath (Lev 24:6-7). Elsewhere they are also called “bread of the face” – that is, bread set before the presence of God (Exod 25:30; 1 Sam 21:6); 1 Kings 7:48).

A lot involved in maintaining the work of the house of our God

Wiersbe: The tax was a reminder to the people that God had redeemed them and paid a price to set them free, and that they should behave like people who belonged to God.

Let’s reserve any remarks about application to us today until we study the corresponding 2nd regulation:

B. (:34-39) Regulations Regarding Sacrifices to God and Support of the Priestly Ministry – Expressed in 3 Areas of Responsibility

1. The Wood Offering – to burn on the altar = a sacrifice to God

“Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers’ households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law;”

Wiersbe: Since the fire on the brazen altar was to be kept burning constantly (Lev. 6:12-13), it required a steady supply of wood; and wood was a precious commodity.

Might have seemed like such a waste – bringing wood to burn

Booming Logging industry supported by the need for sacrifices in the temple

2. The First Fruits – to support the Priests — giving God the first and the best

“and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the LORD annually, and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God,”

Giving is never to be an after-thought; a priority of the highest order

Support and promotion of the Worship of God and expansion of His kingdom

Priests are a special subset of the Levites – descended from high priest Aaron;

All priests were Levites … but not all Levites were priests;

[Not sure that this distinction was always maintained.]

Levites would help the priests with the sacrifices associated with worship; with singing; with the reading of the law; with the teaching of the law

Wayne Blank: Levi had 3 sons – Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. From those branches of the family, the Levites were organized into 3 levels of service:

• The first level was composed of Aaron and his offspring, who were descended from Levi’s son Kohath. They formed the priesthood.

• The second level was made up of all of the other descendants of Kohath who were not descendants of Aaron. They were in charge of the most sacred parts of the Tabernacle (Numbers 3:27-32, 4:4-15, 7:9).

• The third level consisted of all of the descendants of Gershon and Merari, who were given lesser duties (Numbers 3:21-26,33-37).

Prov. 3:9 “Honor the Lord from the wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

3. The Tithes – to support the Levites

“and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns. The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.”

Wiersbe: The Jews were to bring a tenth of their produce to the Lord each year for the support of the Levites (Lev. 27:30-34). The Levites then gave a “tithe of the tithe” to the priests (Num. 18:25-32). The Jews were also to tithe the 90 percent that was left and take it to the temple for the annual feasts (Deut. 26:1-11). To these two tithes was added a third tithe, received every third year for the poor (vv. 12-15; 14:28-29).

Don’t lose sight of the major point:


Here: what we do with our shekels today

Should we be preaching the message of Malachi 3:8-12?? “Will a man rob God? … Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse . . .” Is the storehouse now the local church and you are commanded to each give one tenth of your income or you are robbing God? Is tithing the key to enjoying material prosperity and God’s blessing?

Application: all that we have belongs to the Lord and we are stewards, making investments for eternity. How can we fail to be generous and to trust the Lord for the provision of our needs?

Origin of concept of Tithing:

Genesis 14:18-20 – Abraham, returning from his military victory over the invading Mesopotamian kings, gave Melchizedek, the king-priest of Salem, a tenth of all. Showed the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood (type of Christ) to the Aaronic. –

Piper: So our first encounter with tithing is one where the giver is not paying God to stir him into action, but one where the giver is responding to God who has just fought for him and given him victory and great blessing.

Genesis 28:22 – Jacob, fleeing from Esau, promised to give a tenth to God if God prospered him. “Of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” Recognition that all we have comes to us as a gift from God. Not holding on to the other 9/10 as if it is mine and not Gods; a pledge that we are a steward of all that God has entrusted to us

Under the law of Moses, tithing regulations were spelled out in detail – difficult to reconcile all of the passages and determine where they overlap (e.g. first fruits and tithes) or where they are speaking of separate and distinct offerings

You hear a lot of churches call for the collection of tithes and offerings – as if there is some sort of obligation to give a tenth … and then your free will offerings extend beyond that … What does the NT teach?

Does the NT command tithing for today? (many offerings involved – they were required to give much more than 10%)

Luke 18:12 – we see a faithful tither – a self righteous, Pharasaical hypocrite

What did Christ say about tithing – still talking to those under the law:

Matt. 23:23-24 “these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others”

Now let’s look at some Examples of Giving in the NT – what type of giving is commended?

Look at the widow who gave her very last coin – nothing to do with tithing – Mark 12:41-44

Commended by Jesus: “she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” – not being irresponsible

Look at the Value of her gift; Look at the Sacrifice of her gift – in terms of Uniqueness and Completeness

Look at Zaccheus who was converted from his sinful practices as a tax-gatherer extorting extra money from the people – Luke 19:1-10 — “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor” – No set percentage standard that is dictated – a matter of the heart

Matt. 19:21 “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me” That’s 100%.

Luke 14:33 “So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” Again 100%

Look at the practice of the early church in the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:44-45 – nothing said here about tithing

Acts 3:6 – Peter did not even have any silver or gold to give alms to the needy

Acts 4:32-34 – another example of total commitment; no needy people among them

Acts 4:36-37 – example of Joseph – sold a property and gave the full purchase price

Acts 5:1-11 counter example of Ananias and Sapphira – lied about how much they were giving

The amount of giving is under our control – but don’t lie about it

If tithing was the accepted standard, you would have thought that Ananias would have complied with that; actually the standard practice was much more sacrificial and total

Acts 6:1ff – feeding of the widows; 12 apostles devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word – sounds like they were supported full time in the gospel ministry

Acts 8:18 – you cannot offer money as a bribe for spiritual graces

Acts 11:29-30 Relief sent to Judea

“in the proportion that any of the disciples had means” – voluntary response to specific need; indicated that they had not previously just divested themselves of all of their money

Acts 18:3 working as a tentmaker at Corinth

Acts 20:33-35 – example of Apostle Paul presented to elders at Ephesus; sometimes supported by gifts; other times felt it was important to work at a secular occupation and set a good example that it is more blessed to give than to receive

2 Cor. 8-9 Key passage about giving – many principles we could extract here …

Must ask the right question:

Not: How much am I obligated to give to God?

Danger in even saying that one tenth is a good guideline; we then think we have checked the box and the rest belongs to us for our own discretionary pleasures

But: How much am I willing and able to give to God?

Piper: How much do I dare keep to spend on myself? 2 Cor. 2:14

Principles of NT Giving:

1) In Faith, a matter determined between you and God – How has He prospered you? How much can you trust Him to provide for you?

2) Sacrificially – a privilege to give; not a duty or a burden – beg for the opportunity to meet the needs of others and make an investment for eternity

3) Cheerfully, willingly, from the heart

To Support what type of Needs:

1) Practical needs of the saints

2) Itinerant missionaries advancing the gospel to new locations

3) Furtherance of the work of the local church including support of preachers and teachers

Our order of priority: buildings / senior pastor / administration / missionary work / practical needs


How committed are you to obeying God? The proof is whether you reform your behavior in specific areas as you come to understand what the Word says. These final two areas in chapter 10 relate to Money Matters – how we use our resources to meet the needs of others and advance the kingdom of God in this church age.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Stedman: The tithe was a tax levied upon people for the purpose of supporting a priesthood, a separate body of people who did religious things. When you come into the New Testament you find the priesthood has, in a sense, been eliminated. Now every Christian is a priest. We are a royal kingdom of priests, the epistles tell us, and there is no special collection or tax to support it.

It is laid upon us to give voluntarily, as our hearts are stirred and moved by the grace of God. That is what these Macedonians did. They understood that once you have given yourself it is easy to give anything else. That is the key.

The proper Christian attitude towards possessions is reflected in the hymn which we sang:

We give Thee but Thine own,

What-e’er the gift may be:

All that we have is Thine alone,

A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

You do not take 10 per cent and give it to the Lord and the 90 per cent remains yours. That is not Christian giving. 100 per cent of it belongs to God. The true Christian attitude is, “It is all yours,

Lord. You do what you want with it. Whatever you tell me to do with it, I’ll do, because it belongs to you, not to me. I am merely a steward, a trustee of it, responsible to distribute it for your name’s sake.” That is what these Macedonians had seen, and, therefore, having given themselves, they freely followed up with everything they had.

This is also Jesus’ teaching. Once he was asked whether people should pay taxes or not. He asked for a coin, and, holding it up, he said, “Whose image is on this coin?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Jesus’ words in answer have never been forgotten: “Give to Caesar the things that have Caesar’s picture on them, the things of Caesar, but give to God the things that have the image of God upon them,” {cf, Matt 22:20-21, Mark 12:16-17, Luke 20:24-25}.

Who bears the image of God? You do, don’t you? You are made in his image; you bear the imprint of his image. Give that to God then. That is what he wants. When you give that, then everything else will follow. You hold things in trust to be used whenever he lets you know that a need exists for them. That is proper Christian giving.

Principles for Giving from 1 Cor. 16:1-4

1.A universal practice, “as I directed the churches”

2.A weekly activity, “On the first day of every week”

3.A personal act, “each one of you”

4.A predetermined objective, “is to put aside and save”

5.A proportionate amount, “as he may prosper”

6.An unpressured response, “so that no collections be made when I come”

7.A responsible delivery. “when I arrive . . .”