Pre-Kingdom Tithing

As Joshua takes command of the Hebrews and leads them into the promised land, he follows Moses’ words and examples to renew the covenant and their commitment to God through circumcision of their children. Joshua gathers them all and circumcises them to submit themselves and their future generation to God’s promises for the Israelites (Joshua 5). The removal of the flesh would serve to separate the Hebrews once again from the people that they would encounter. He follows this in Ch. 8 with an altar of unhewn stones and burnt offerings and peace offerings as well to remind them of the offerings and tithes that were due to God. With this and the reading of the Law to all the people we know that Joshua did not let them forget the rules nor the blessings that should come to them in this land with obedience. Joshua divides the land to each of the tribes as instructed leaving the Levites out of this as they received their portion apart from the rest. Later, in Joshua 21:2, the Levites request land and cities in order to receive the tithes and offerings of the Israelite people and to live on the land with their families. Because of the quantity of offerings and tithes promised to them, they inherited forty-eight towns in total from different tribes which was portioned out to specific descendants within the tribe of Levites. The Hebrew people won and fought many battles during Joshua’s time, following the Lord’s laws and fulfilling their part of the covenant. As he was nearing the end of his life, he called the leadership together, elders, leaders, judges, and officials, and told them to keep their covenant with God, because He would protect them and bless them. He tells them directly that if they serve other gods that they will perish from the land given to them.

Following in Judges, as the generations that had known Joshua and had known the works of the Lord died off, the Israelites began to worship and follow other gods, with the hand of the Lord against them (Judges 2:10-15). Throughout Judges, chapter by chapter, each of them are tested in their faith. Their obedience directly affects their victories and defeats as the Israelites turn away from God and are killed by the tens of thousands in battles.  Throughout the book of Judges, we see a clear cycle of Sin bringing suffering, which led to crying God, to deliverance leading to peace, followed by more sin. Idolatry caused a vast majority of their falling away from God. Judges 17, for example, tells how Micah made images to worship, making his son a priest over it, knowing he was not a Levite as all priests were to be. So he paid a passing Levite from Bethlehem to stay with them and to serve as priest over the image, knowing that that was what God would prefer from them. The Bible states that in this time men did what they saw as best because they did not have a King to lead them.

While some were keeping the traditions more on a thanksgiving or requesting basis (Judges 2:2-5, Judges 11:31, Judges 13:16, etc) We have confirmation in Judges 21:19 and again in 1 Samuel 1:21 that the annual festivals and tithes were continuing to be paid by at least some of the Hebrews. While the priests were still inheriting their portions of the offerings and tithes, they took to their own rules of skimming from the animals offered in contempt for the Lord’s offerings (1 Samuel 2:12-17). At the time of Eli and his sons, there were accusations of them taking too much and making themselves fat from the offering. In 1 Samuel 4:21, the Ark of the Covenant is taken by the Philistines because the Glory of Israel had also been lost. The Ark inflicted sickness upon the Philistines because they did not take care of it according to His instructions and sent it back to the Israelites with a guilt offering to atone for their theft. Even as the Israelites welcomed it back, another seventy of them died because they looked upon it. It was Samuel who interceded with the Lord with offerings and prayers on the behalf of Israel who brought protection back to them. (1 Samuel 6:19; 7:8-11). Again we see that blessings and protection for the Hebrews came with a complete devotion to God with recognition and dedication to all the promises and the covenant between them, including the removal of their idolatry. Tithes and offerings, alongside reverence of the Lord as the one and only God, were given to God since he always fulfilled his side of the covenant.

Mosaic Tithing: Part Two

The Bible consistently makes a distinction between tithes and offerings. In the Abrahamic lessons, we discussed different types of offerings and tithes, showing thankfulness or marking a covenant, though these were exclusively voluntary and never mandated by God. These were given of a willing nature in response to God’s fulfillment of the Covenant between Him and Abraham’s family. As the covenant was being fulfilled with Israel as a full fledged nation and moving towards the promised land, law was instituted. This law formed a new relationship between God and his Chosen people. As God separated the tribes of Israel, He gave the Levites to Aaron with special purpose to fulfill the duties of the tabernacle and priesthood in service of the tent of meeting.

The law stated first and foremost in Leviticus 27:30 that a tithe of everything from the land and the herds and flocks belonged to the Lord. In Numbers 18, the Israelites are ordered to also redeem the first offspring of every human and unclean animal and sacrifice the clean animals at the tent of meeting, because all of these belonged to Him. These are “redeemed” to Him, meaning that they are traded out for their monetary equivalents to the priests in place of offering up the child, paying to keep them from God’s service.

It is important to note that eleven of the twelve tribes paid the tithes; the Levites were exempt from having inherited no part of the land or the animals in order to make a living for themselves and their families. The tithes which the Israelites give to Him are to be given entirely over to Aaron and the Levites as their wages to support them and their families for their work in the tent of meeting. In exchange, the priests were not allowed to work the land, raise animals, or serve the community or themselves for any other compensation. To serve the Lord in their priestly duties was their portion. From the tithes given to them, the priests were also required to pay a tithe themselves to the Lord. This meant that for their service they were allowed to keep 9/10 of the tithes paid by the other tribes to support themselves and their families.

There are two other primary tithes described in Deuteronomy 14:22-29: the Festival Tithe and the Poor Tithe. The Festival Tithe was the annual collection of a tenth of the produce of the fields and the firstborns of their flocks and herds and to eat them in celebration and rejoicing in the Lord. They were to eat and celebrate like this in the presence of God in order to learn to revere Him. This tithe could also be redeemed, given in coin instead of goods, but this had to be spent on something the individual would still be able to enjoy at the festival with the others. The Poor Tithe was the tenth collected every three years and stored in the towns, for the Levites, the fatherless, the foreigners, and the widows. This was to ensure that they too had food in order to share God’s blessings even with the less fortunate.

There are two very different interpretations to these three tithes in how they were enacted by the Hebrews. One school of thought is that these tithes were a singular tithe that was given to a different use each year, cycling every three years.. In this theory, the annual tithe could have supported the celebrations and still had more than enough to support the Levites year-round alongside the firstborns and the offerings and their portions. The Festival Tithe and the Poor Tithe would have interchanged in order to follow the cycle as needed, giving up celebrations in favor of caring for those who were likely struggling every third year. This would infer a constant 10th given by eleven tribes with different purposes annually.

The other main interpretation of these scriptures argues that they didn’t replace one another but stacked. This means that the Levitical and Festival tax were both levied yearly, totalling 20%. The poor tithe would be added to that for a total 30% tithe paid out on every third year. This is the position held by Jewish scholars and historians like Josephus and many others. However, it is not pronounced as such in the scripture directly. The tithes during the era of Levitical law serve to support either the priesthood or the community’s less fortunate. These funds and gifts to God as required by the law maintained the dwelling of the Lord among them and maintained the people of Israel in a manner that God asked of them, in fulfillment of His covenant with them.

Mosaic Tithing: Part One

As Israel’s children became a nation under God, He fulfilled His promise and covenant to bless them and make them numerous and fruitful. God’s people grew and expanded in the land of Egypt, under the ruling of pharaoh until they became so numerous a new pharaoh felt threatened and began to afflict them, fulfilling what God had told Abraham. The line of Abraham and their descendants were enslaved there for many generations, until God heard the cries of the Israelites and sent Moses to free them.  Once free of Egypt they continued to multiply, exceeding Moses and Aaron’s governing abilities as just two people, even with God’s help. So the Law became the provision of God’s covenant to them as a nation. God gave instructions for His people through Moses which they are to obey fully, demonstrating his power and support. Among them there are 603,550 men in the census required by God, distinguishing the twelve tribes, each with their own duties from the Lord. These laws are to be the ultimate authority and direction of the Israelites in their lives, to govern all of their decisions, sins, atonements, offerings, and judicial rulings.

Immediately following the well-known Ten Commandments, God breaks down every detail of the laws that the Israelites must follow to live under God and with God among them in the Ark of the Covenant. In order to keep the ark holy and clean for God’s presence, he required burnt offerings be made morning and evening to him and for all the people. They had to remain clean enough to come before Him and live around Him. There are several chapters dedicated to cleanliness, whether unclean through animals eaten, bodily discharges, or coming into contact with a carcass. All of these things make them unclean to be in the presence of the Lord, because He is Holy beyond their understanding and they had tobe separate from the unclean world. There were five primary types of offerings given to the Lord and his priests to be redeemed: Burnt Offering, Grain Offering, Peace Offering, Sin Offering, and Trespass Offering. The burnt, grain, and peace offerings were given voluntarily and willingly to God to both mark the days in recognition of him to express their devotion, and to atone for unintentional sins. The Grain Offering and Peace Offering (which included the vow offering, wave offering, and heave offering) were an expression of thankfulness to the goodwill and livelihood that God provided.

The mandatory offerings to God consisted of the Sin Offering and the Trespass Offering. Any sin which went against the laws of God that compose primarily Exodus 20 through the end of Leviticus in Chapter 27, with additional laws in Numbers and Deuteronomy, must be paid for or atoned according to the specific instructions that God required therein. God’s commandments for the Israelites at this time number 613, which outline almost every part of daily life. Many of these included rituals and sacrifices made at the Tent of Meeting and led by Aaron and his sons as priests and servants of God who were clean and set aside for this duty. God gives the Levites to Aaron in Numbers 3 to assist him in the extensive duties of preparation and maintenance of the Tent of Meeting. All of these offerings which the Israelites agreed to as their half of the covenant with God were given according to his instruction and wholly separate from any tithe or monetary commitment. These were the Mosaic laws that structured their daily lives and the devotion that they gave to Him as His chosen people.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part Four

Abraham’s covenant begins in Genesis 12, asking him as Abram to take his wife and to move to the land that God is promising to him and his children. His obedience began a long line of blessings and protection for all the generations that were to come. His promise to them was simply this: I will bless you and your children, I will give you lands, and I will make you fruitful and numerous beyond the stars (Gen 12, 15, 17, 26, 28, 35, 49-50). Obedience to God and the practice of circumcision added later on were required of the his line to continue the blessings. Even when they disobey God and sin, He continues to provide for them, fulfilling his end of the bargain, in no way limiting their wealth or growth or demanding anything extra from them.

The last direct descendant of Abraham’s line that we see partake of the same covenant is Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham. Joseph serves as a translator for the interpretation of dreams through God and serves an Egyptian captain of the guard by the name of Potiphar, managing his entire household. God gave Joseph success in whatever he did, especially in managing the prison he was kept in and the Pharaoh’s own palace. He had all the wealth of the Pharaoh’s Kingdom in his hands and lived comfortably as second in command over all of Egypt. He recognizes the Lord in all of his success, as Abraham’s line was asked to do, with no offerings or tithes required.  In managing the Pharaoh’s land and country, Joseph has the power to trick and then save his family, moving them all into Egypt with him, where he can protect them. When all the Egyptians have given everything over to Pharaoh for Joseph’s leadership and protection, Joseph gives their land back to them and yields a 20% tax on all the crops grown there, to supply for the Pharaoh and the country.

God promised the line of Abraham to be numerous and fruitful, to bless them in all things, and to take care of them as long as they were obedient to Him and circumcised their children on the 8th day of their birth. They had been promised land and were true to it, Jacob and Joseph making sure to be buried there, rather than Egypt where they had died. When they were unable to have children, they prayed to God, and He cared for them, fulfilling his promise each time. The descendants of Abraham worshipped, erected pillars and altars, and recognized God’s power in all the great acts that they could do. This covenant between them and God is fulfilled in the obedience and faith that they give to Him, and they are blessed immeasurably. When we pick up next week, we will be exploring the beginning of the Mosaic law and how that brought about changes in their relationship. As we move forward, remember this: scripturally, there is no basis for tithing in Abraham’s covenant with God.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part Three

Following Abraham’s line, everything is based on lineage and inheritance, of faith and of God’s blessings, based on the covenant between Abraham and God. Jacob grows up knowing that he is the second son and has no guarantee of the blessings of God and will watch his stronger older brother inherit everything. To get around this, Jacob takes the first opportunity he can to break this line, because he wants to be blessed too. We watch in Genesis 25:27-34, as Jacob makes Esau promise his birthright to him for a single meal. Esau agrees, thinking that one measly agreement won’t change his rightful status as the first born son.

When Isaac knows that he is old in age and will likely die soon, he asks Esau to bring him a fresh and perfect meal which must be hunted as Esau could only do. For this, Isaac will give him the Lord’s blessing and the inheritance which is owed to him. Rebekah and Jacob trick a blind and aging Isaac into blessing the wrong son, while Esau is away. However, this blessing which has been rightfully passed down among Abraham’s line continues to Jacob knowing that Jacob has sinned. Isaac finds out, and God knows the whole time. Yet, Jacob is indeed blessed and rewarded for his sin.

Isaac at this moment, knowing that the blessing has been passed down to the wrong son, even ensures that Jacob knows how to use that blessing to protect himself. He sends him away to Rebekah’s brother, Laban, in order to save him from Esau and tells him to have all of the blessings of Abraham’s line. God later sends him a vision, not to condemn Jacob for his trickery and theft but to confirm his blessing. Jacob sets up a pillar and pours oil over it, vowing that only if God was with him and protects him, returning him to his father’s house, that then he will give God one-tenth of what he was provided.

Laban too is a deceiver and and changed Jacob’s wages ten times, trying to cheat him out of money of which Jacob was owed. Instead, God protects him from the theft against him by marking the sheep that he is entitled to for wages with spots and other markings. In this, Jacob’s wealth grows to the point that Laban’s children begin to have issue with how rich Jacob is getting. God’s blessing of Jacob with wealth is through Jacob stealing the animals that God says he is entitled to from Laban. God gives him children and cattle and blesses him thoroughly, with no tenth being yet paid to God.

Laban feels that Jacob has stolen his daughters and their children from him when Jacob runs away, taking his animals as well. However, Laban knows that he can not fight to keep his children, he agrees that there will be no war between the two men and they make an agreement. They offer up a sacrifice, each of them to their own God to complete the agreement.  Jacob had years of God’s protection promised to him and fulfilled, but still he was fearful of rumors that Esau was coming with a band of 400 men. He separates himself from his household, sending them ahead, in case of a fight. That night wrestles with a man, demanding after the struggle that he will not let the man go unless he blesses him. The man injures Jacob’s hip to mark him and tells him that he is to be named Israel because he has overcome both God and man.

Esau welcomes Jacob as family and tries to refuse the offers of cattle from Jacob in accepting him back. Jacob gives thanks to God for protecting from him from a potential fight with his brother and builds an altar to God to praise him.  Jacob is later called out for his stubbornness in not using the name that God has given him of Israel and for idols and false gods in his lands. Jacob makes another promise and another altar, receiving blessings and promises of land and fruitful offspring with God’s continued help to the line of Abraham, saying kings will come from his line.

From Abraham to Isaac, we have two of the most faithful and obedient men in the Old Testament to model after, and Jacob undercuts all of it. Jacob cheats his way into blessings, steals what is owed to him, and fights God for his blessings, when God has only asked for faith to bless Abraham’s lineage. Even following his promises, being protected by God away from his family and land, Jacob never pays the tenth to God that he trades for protection. Jacob was taken care of as completely as Isaac and Abraham, but no payment was ever issued to God. God cared for him and protected him without a single tithe, because when he said he would bless Jacob, his word was enough.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part Two

Isaac is just as essential to the study of tithing as Abraham, because there isn’t a single scripture to show he paid tithes. My own pastor used Abraham over and over for lessons in tithing, while leaving out Isaac’s complete lack of tithing and the specifics of why Abraham’s line never had to “pay” for their blessings, except in obedience.

“What would a man take tithings for, if he had any…If he never was born, and never will die, and was from beginning to end, and—and never had no father or mother or descent, and owned the whole Heavens and earth and all in it, why would he take tithe? Why would he ask Abraham to pay tithes? You see what a strict thing it is to pay tithes? Tithing is right. Every Christian is duty bound to pay tithe. That’s right. Never has been changed.”

  57-0915E – William Marrion Branham

Lessons from Isaac’s life are more about his warring children or the servant’s journey to bring him Rebekah. Yet when he took over his father’s house, he was so like Abraham in bearing and running his affairs that kings asked for the same peace with him as they had with his father (Gen 26:26-33). It’s no surprise that God reaffirms his covenant with a man who followed the teachings of Abraham so closely. God is even clear as to why: obedience to every law, every statute, every commandment. If tithing were included, it would be here.

Isaac must have grown up hearing the stories of his miraculous conception. He would have known the issues behind the expulsion of his step brother Ishmael, and every other step sibling as Abraham would not allow any of them to share in the blessing with his heir (Gen 25:5-6). Isaac was taught of Abraham’s blessings and to obey God in every aspect, to reap the blessings offered to them. In Abraham’s eyes there was nothing else as dear to him as the fulfillment of God’s word. Isaac was born only through that covenant that Abraham shared with God.

Abraham was given a promise from God himself, and he made sure to remember it. He knew it would take care of his children and all those who would come after. Abraham’s covenant required action of himself and his line, to separate themselves from others with a mark. Abraham made sure Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day, so in Chapter 26 of Genesis, God confirms to Isaac that the covenant will continue to bless and protect his line. Abraham gave willingly of a merry heart for celebration, and it ends there. God is consistent and follows through (Numbers 23:19) and will always prefer the obedience of a willing heart over the giving of worldly things (I Samuel 15:22).

Isaac was known for his unfailing faith in God’s plan for his family (Heb 11:20). Abraham and Isaac both followed His will when it was most painful to them. Because God’s will always came first, Isaac was spared. When Isaac married Rebekah, they were unable to have children, just as his parents, Abram and Sarai, were. He begged the Lord for a child as his father had, and she was able to bear twins.  The Lord promised him, “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham” (Gen 26:3). Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps, every step of the way, continuing his very successful and wealthy line, with God’s blessings and protection. If we take Abraham and his son, Isaac, for examples in tithing, all we pay to God is our obedience.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part One

Tithing is a major part of Christianity today. Whether your church passes a plate, has a box on the back wall, or takes up offerings, we’ve all heard it. We’ve seen the ministers on TV preaching the better you ministries. The concept is always the same: the more you give to God, the more you’ll be blessed. If you’ve ever been in the spot like I was, not having enough money for your bills but having been raised that you had to pay tithes first and ‘God would make it all work’, this is for you. God as always has a clear and beneficial plan for his children. While God blesses those who give to others and believe in Him, tithing is something that seems to wrongly be placed on the forefront.

Most of us grew up believing that tithes started with Abraham’s tale and blessing and a tenth of his wealth which was given away. He made an agreement with God to be obedient and that God promised innumerable offspring, judgment on those who would subdue his children one day, the financial gain from that, and considerable land.. God never once asked or implied that Abraham would need to pay anything out of the wealth God gave him. Abraham wouldn’t take spoils from others. At one time, Abram enlisted 318 male servants from his household, armed them, and pursued Chedorlaomer to rescue his nephew, Lot. After returning victorious with Lot and the spoil taken Abram wanted everyone to know his portion, his wealth, and everything he had had come from the Lord. Because of this, the wealth from spoils of war was paid to the labors of servants and the other soldiers but submitted the excess to the King of Sodom, where his nephew lived (Gen 14:18-20). He gave a tenth to Melchizedek, based on the tradition in the Mesopotamian area of taxes to rulers to be of ten percent, which has later been termed a “tithe” meaning tenth. Later, Paul touches on this giving from Abraham in the New Testament, so we’ll come around to this story again in a later section.

Abraham doesn’t work as a basis for tithing, since his promise from God for wealth did not require tithing. Abraham was blessed many times over by God with only his faith and obedience to God as payment, as his way of sacrifice for the blessings that were given. The only time he gives a tenth, or tithe, to anyone is in the excess acquired from someone else’s wealth, not the blessings given to him by God. If we want to be blessed as Abraham was blessed, the first promise we are given from God comes from a life of obeying His Word.

Tithing Series: Introduction

Tithing seems to be a commonly requested topic here at The Incomplete Message. We keep all of your questions and constantly look for ways to address questions you’ve brought up. So if you’ve asked a question but haven’t seen it in a post just yet, don’t think we’ve forgotten you. We simply want to give all questions the respect of a thoroughly thought out and Biblically based response.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be diving into the scripture to show the different ways tithing has evolved through Old Testament, the prophets, and now into the New Testament.  First focus will be where tithing came from and its purpose: what does taking a tithe mean, why it was instituted at all and where it ended. During the time of Mosaic law and the Kingdom of Israel, there were strong changes in tithes purposes and what was expected: why was it changed from Abraham’s version, to what purpose, and how it also met its end scripturally. From the time the Israelites were exiled until the end of Jesus’ life, new doctrines once again reinvented tithing, its purposes, and came to a conclusion in scripture. After Christ’s departure, we come to a modern take on tithing that follows both Christ’s teachings as we find the stories in the New Testament and Paul’s doctrinal refinement, learning how it is relevant to us today and how to apply it to our own lives following God’s teachings.

The point of this series will be as always to show the simplicity of Christ and his message of peace in our lives. Just as Jesus Christ was a human to bring balance, so must the Word be made flesh and lived in us towards all fellow humans. I hope you find something in the coming lessons useful, challenging, and enjoyable. If you have any questions or issues, I would love to see the commentary on it or PM me at any time.


“Come now, and let us reason together,”

Isaiah 1:18

We are His Children

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. – Mark 10

It’s hard to question your upbringing. Parents are given the ability to create the norms you judge the world by. The filters they gave me, from inconsistency caused by them disagreeing on new doctrines: are TV’s evil, playing cards of the devil, shorts examples of a sissy spirit, physical discipline guided by the whims of ministers (thinking you can beat the devil out of your child), and money management (why save when the world was ending). For me, one of many cracks in that wall came when my son was born. I wanted to be an example for him because I couldn’t control the outside world, only what I showed him. This was a huge responsibility. Once leaving the group I have had to stop in the midst of things to check my sources, everyday thoughts might have been based on non biblical traditions, I also had to evaluate my parents’ lessons, deciding if they were based on things I still believed.

“…old-fashion mother, see her girl come out on the street, back there in them mountains, with a little pair of shorts on, like you and grandma and the rest of you wear. Let her come in, of a morning, and her clothes half off of her, twisted up, and her manicure, lipsticks, or whatever it is, all over her face, been out with some little Ricky all night long, in a hot rod, running around, come in. She would blister her, one of them hickory limbs, she couldn’t get up out of the bed for six months” 63-0412M – William Marrion Branham

My thoughts on parenting needed adjustment right then and there. I was appalled this had been taught to me, but my parents didn’t want to hear how they were wrong, who does? They had done right in their minds based on how they’d been raised. Every generation trying to fix what they felt was messed up, yet the message froze certain ideas and cemented them in place like the above quote.

I can only imagine that this was the wall that so many of the people in Jesus’ time ran into when he told them that God’s grace had been promised not only to the Jews but to all the Gentiles and all the people of the world. When they had to compare all the rules they’d ever known, taught to them by rabbis, by their parents, by their entire world up until that point that rules and expectations would be what got them into heaven. Jesus told them that the kingdom of Heaven was likened to the starry-eyed curious children running to meet him that the disciples couldn’t hold back. I had to realize like those that converted to Christianity that my salvation didn’t depend on rules and restrictions like wearing skirts and tithing and hiding the TV when my minister said it was evil. Jesus came to show us that there was a good and human (and fallible) way to find salvation. I had to find the loving way to raise my kid, in Jesus’ name.

And everywhere the Lamb went; Mary was sure to go

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

– Luke 21:46

As a parent I have the fear of losing my child in public places. Walking through Walmart, I have witnessed first hand how my child, upon seeing a toy, developed faster than light travel the moment I looked away. I have played through so many scenarios of what I would do if someone took him or he managed to actually disappear, but in all of my instances of losing him, I’ve only needed to find the nearest shiny or toy section to be reunited with him; thankfully, he and I think similarly.

I’ve heard some people talk about how bad of a mother Mary must have been on that trip. How could she lose the son of God? Depending on who you ask it was three to five day trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem at the time of our story. It was not an overnight trip to a family member’s house. This was a yearly trek for the whole family to the hub of nation to take part in one of the biggest festivals. Think about that, a family vacation, to a church function, with ten or so days just for travel, not counting the seven to eight days of the actual feast of Passover, leaving home for most of a month. I can’t make it from Louisville to Dayton (two hours by the way) without forgetting a toothbrush every time.

After three days of being politely told to stop worrying, as all relatives seem to do, the mom-alarm went ballistic. The Bible tells us that after three days they sought him. No one could for sure say when they’d seen him last, so terrified, they had to head back. Jesus had been left alone in Jerusalem for six days by the time they got back. They didn’t find him scared and hiding. No front desk was paging them. They had to search through every place they had been during that week. When they finally walked into the temple to say a prayer for their lost child, they finally found him. Jesus was not lost; He was sitting amongst those that taught the law and doctrine of the temple. I can imagine as they stood there in shock someone seeing the direction of their stares, telling them, hey, have you seen this kid? He knows more than most of us already. Whoever has been teaching that boy is parent of the year. He’ll make an amazing rabbi someday for sure.

So then we read her cry, “My son. Why have you done this to us? Look at me. Your father and I have been searching high and low for you, worried to death.” We can finally attach the motherly pride and pain to it. We can also imagine the anger that Jesus’ words would have spurned. “Why would you be looking for me anywhere but here? Don’t know you know this is my Father’s business?” However, he relented and went home with them.

God has a purpose for all of us. He has given us each a task to complete, though not many of us by angels. He not only knows our every need but every ounce of our potential. We might be day two of heading back into town trying to find Jesus, panicked, but God is still in control and knows what we need. He wouldn’t give you a responsibility without equipping you to handle it.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

– Isaiah 41:10