Did God Intend for the Holy Days to Be Fund Raising Occasions?
by Tom Justus, minister, "Church of God, Sabbath Day", Springdale, Arkansas
The building is packed, it is a Holy Day. The minister comes to the podium and starts his plea for the offering. He explains how he is going to sacrifice and give all for the "work". He even goes further and asks the audience to give extra by putting in all their loose change. Then a large group of men come forward with their collection baskets. As soon as they have taken up the collection, they head for a back room. In this room a group with adding machines start counting the money. Remember, this is a Holy Day, and a service is going on in the adjoining room. Do you think this is pleasing to God? Letís look into the Bible and see what God has to say about the Holy Day offerings! All scripture used will be from the NIV.
Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, a I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of In-gathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord (Ex 23:14-17).
Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose; at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed; each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you (Deut 16:17).
We know from reading other scriptures such as Leviticus 23 that these three times or three seasons include the seven Holy Days. Where do we get the scriptural authority for taking up an offering on each Holy Day? Perhaps we think that this comes from Leviticus 23. I suggest that you read this chapter thoroughly. Remember when you read the following scriptures about each Holy Day, that offerings made by fire cannot be made today. We do not have a Levitical Priesthood. Verse 7: (Days of Unleavened Bread) "On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. Verse 15: (Feast of Weeks) From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord". Verses 17-22 continues to explain about the burnt offerings to be made on that day. Verse 23: (Trumpets) "The Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites; On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord, by fire. Verse 27: (Atonement) The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves; and present an offering made by fire. Verses 33-36: (Feast of Tabernacles) The Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lordís Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days, The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire. and on the eight day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work".
We can and should give offerings in these three seasons showing God we are thankful for our blessings. Does this mean that we should use these days as fund raisers for a corporation? Letís read Deuteronomy 14, verses 22 through 27 (these verses seem to imply that this is the Feast of Tabernacles):
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like; cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
There has been nothing in the scriptures to give any indications that these Holy Days were to be used to raise large sums of money. They were for us to come before God and rejoice!
We have no Levites now. Those who try to claim that the Ministers are Levites know better. Ministers own homes, and in many cases, better then average church members. We still have the widows and fatherless among us. It takes money to operate a FOT, but where does this give us authority to make a fund raising occasion out of Godís Holy Days? The extra money brought in by Holy Days could be best used in helping the poor, widows and fatherless instead of making a few leaders and their organizations wealthy.
How did this idea of having a collection on each Holy Day and putting pressure on the membership to give large amounts of money on these days start? It started well over a half century ago by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and the Radio Church of God. Over forty years ago in Pasadena, California, I was with a group of men when Mr. Armstrong was asked about taking up a Holy Day offering on each Holy Day instead of the three times. Nothing was said about the meaning of the Hebrew or what other scriptures might be relevant. His answer was simply that it was convenient and more money would be collected that way. I have worked closely with WCG and CGI for more than forty years, having been festival director for both organizations. The Holy Days were looked forward to as times to raise large sums of money. Ministers tried to see who could raise the most money at Feast sites. They were truly fund raising occasions! It still goes on today. Even further, I understand some organizations are selling their wares, such as sermon and lecture tapes, at these meetings. This year, let us simply rejoice before God! &