Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, September 30, 2012

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Moses told the people of his day that there was improper mourning. When we experience death and loss it is normal to grieve. But, back then there were mourning practices that were unacceptable. Even in our day, the mourning in some cultures is more for show or gaining improper attention than a true expression of grief.

When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn," He was not referring to mourning over death but mourning over sin. When we have the right attitude toward sin, which is being “poor in spirit,” then we mourn over our disorderly behavior and self-centeredness.

Another issue is usage of tithe. Tithing is biblical, but much of the content of this chapter deals with a “second tithe.” The first tithe was given at the sanctuary/temple for supporting the Levites and priests. The most mystifying section in this chapter deals with misusing this second tithe to buy “strong drink” and then “rejoicing before the Lord.” Read the whole section. There were marginalized members of their society that did receive benefit, but what about the “strong drink?” Does the Bible endorse drinking and then worshipping the Lord is that kind of happy state?

This passage does not permit one to purchase alcohol for consumption. This was to be a religious, sacrificial meal at the sanctuary. This does not mean that social drinking of alcohol was approved. The whole biblical picture forbids both the drinking of alcohol (1 Peter 4:3), and the process of getting drunk (Eph. 5:18).

John Ash
Chinese Union
Mission Hong Kong