Did God Intend For the Holy Days To Be Fund-Raising Occasions?
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 farther 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. This is a Holy Day and a sermon is being preached 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.
Exodus 23:14-17, "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, as 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 Ingathering 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."
Deuteronomy 16:16-17, "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."
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, offerings made with 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 continue 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 ofí 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 to the Lord 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 14:22-27 (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 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. His answer was it was convenient and you would collect more money that way. I have worked closely with WCG and CGI over the past forty plus 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. 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.
Christ was angry with those who used the place of worship for money making. When we attend a Holy Day service, it should be for prayer and worship. Matthew 21:12-13, "Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. It is written, He said to them, My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers."
What does God want from us? Is it large offerings that we can send to some headquarters? Will this make God happy? Micah 6:6-8 "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? (Large offerings of thousands of dollars) Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
The scriptures are quite clear. The purpose of the Holy Days is for worshipping God and rejoicing before Him. It is evident that if the distance was too far to carry your tithes, animals and produce, for the FOT, you were to sell them. After arriving at the location, you were to take that money and buy what you desired, such as oxen, sheep, and wine, to eat and rejoice before God with your family, Deuteronomy 14:23-26.
Offerings should still be given in these three Holy Day seasons. These offerings could be used for paying Feasts expenses, a banquet for everyone, and social activities for our children. God did not intend for the Holy Days to be a fund-raising occasion to raise money to send to a headquarters.
Comments by Richard C. Nickels
In 1972, I was assistant Festival Treasurer for the Worldwide Church of God festival in Jekyll Island, Georgia. After the morning Holy Day offering, a large group of men and I took the money in garbage cans to a large room in nearby Brunswick. It took several hours to open all the envelopes, count all the paper money and loose change, stamp all the checks, and prepare deposit slips. We all missed the afternoon service. The Treasurer and I took the money to deposit it in the bank, which I recall was over $100,000.
Rather than place the offering in a secured box and wait until after the Sabbath to count it and deposit the funds, we broke the Sabbath because the Church didnít want to lose one dayís worth of interest on these funds. Years later, I came to my senses and realized that this activity is a SIN. Today, this same money-grubbing, Sabbath-breaking, practice continues. Those who are attuned to the Spirit of the Almighty will flee such sinful practices.
Additional General Articles on God's Holy Days:
Holy Days, General Information
Responding to the Attack on God's Holy Days
Pagan Holidays - or God's Holydays -Which?
Holy Days or Feast Days?
What Should We Do During the Eternal's Feasts?
God's Second Tithe
Holy Day Words
Miscellaneous Information on Holy Days
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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