You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. (Deuteronomy 28:38, ESV)
A few years ago, towards the end of a Sunday School class that the Rector was teaching, a very faithful fellow parishioner asked, “I understand that we should tithe, but on what number should we tithe?” and he continued, “I would suggest the right number is net income, what’s left after the government has taken out taxes. Aren’t taxes the same thing to us as the portion the locust have eaten?”
Ouch! Being right before the class was over, he didn’t get much of an answer and the question carried over into our post Sunday School class fellowship as the Rector hurried off to prepare for the second mass. Being friends, there was a lot of good natured prodding like, “What is it that you don’t you get about ‘first fruits?’” Most of realized that it had been a rhetorical question, a way to stir things up and put the subject on the table so we could discuss it. The truth is, though, there may be a little ambiguity in trying to apply early Hebrew scriptures to our modern circumstances.
The early Hebrews lived in a theocracy. In other words, their church was also their government, so some of the tithe did cover some of the cost of government. Some of the tithe also went towards the support of the less fortunate (see Deuteronomy 26:13). That does sound something like taxes, doesn’t it? So, have taxes taken the place of the tithe? Or, are taxes the same as ,“ the portion the locust have eaten?”
Your assignment, if you will accept it, is to meditate upon, research, and discuss these questions until next month’s installment, The Portion the Locust have Eaten, Pt 2.