The Sunday News
There has been a lot of talk around Minister Chinamasa’s Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review presented at the end of last month to Parliament. Of interest to you and me on the spiritual front is the amendment to the Income Tax Legislation with respect to Ecclesiastical Organisations.
I have decided to take a look at the statement and assess for myself and others the relevance of the statement to your faith and mine.
Is the Minister looking too much into God’s domain? Is it a case of the entry into the Holy of Holies by a non-Levite? Are we seeing strange fires in the sanctuary? I would like to think otherwise and posit that there is merit in the statement.
I will begin by the Minister’s avoidance of doubt statement in paragraph 1086 where he says, “For the avoidance of doubt, Tithes and Offerings for the benefit of the Ecclesiastical Organisations will remain exempt from income tax.”
I then went into the word and studied the nature of financing in the Tabernacle, the Temple and the Church. On the main I would like to take the essence of the measurement of the Shekel of the Sanctuary which the instructions outline in such a clear manner.
May I further say it is my understanding that the wealth of the house of the Lord, the Sanctuary or as we see today the Church, is by extension to be the symbol of the blessing and the prophetic wealth of the nation.
A poor church would be symbolic of also a shambolic economic status of a nation. This is to me true because the church is the second institution that God has ordained on earth. The other two are the Family and the State.
The stability of the three makes for a stable nation! In all nations where there is a lack of the balance there is an indication of the fall or tumbling or many systems. Let us go back then to the understanding of the shekel of the sanctuary as we embark on the series of Taxing the Church!
Exodus 30:13 speaks of a shekel of the sanctuary, “Each one who crosses over to those already counted (in the census) is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD.”
Whilst in some quarters scholars are uncertain what exactly a shekel was, here is one calculation of its value: the sanctuary shekel was defined as 20 gerahs. A gerah has been traditionally measured as 1/50 of an ounce, or 0,6 grams.
The sanctuary shekel would then equal 0.4 of an ounce of gold (20 times 1/50 of an ounce), or 12 grams for those that went to school after Independence. Based on a price of $50,80 per gram, the approximate value of a sanctuary shekel would be $609,60 in today’s market.
An important distinction is that the standard shekel and the sanctuary shekel were two different weights. This is the reason the shekel in Exodus 30:13 is defined as a particular kind of shekel called “the shekel of the sanctuary.” This shekel was defined by weights kept in the tabernacle as the standard.
A standard shekel weighed 11,5 grams. Later, a “shekel” would also refer to a coin. In Amos 8:5, God condemns the use of a false shekel: “Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit” (NKJV).
Throughout the Old Testament, the shekel was used to weigh gold (Genesis 24:22), cinnamon (Exodus 30:23), hair (2 Samuel 14:26), iron (2 Samuel 17:7), myrrh (Exodus 30:23), and food rations (Ezekiel 4:10).
Outside of the Books of Moses, only one passage mentions the sanctuary shekel. Ezekiel 45:12 says, “The shekel is to consist of twenty gerahs. Twenty shekels plus twenty-five shekels plus fifteen shekels equal one mina.”
Though not mentioned explicitly as the sanctuary shekel, the same amount is referenced. The sanctuary shekel differed from both the shekel and the common weight.
In the book of Leviticus we have God’s currency brought before us and in the very last chapter we have the subject of valuation according to God.
It says there: “And all thy valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel” (Lev. 27: 25).
The spiritual import of Lev. 27: 25 should now be clear. God’s people must value everything by taking it into the presence of God, placing it in the divine balances and learning its true weight and value according to the divine estimation: “all thy valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary”.
It is from that valuation that one can then see the importance of the shekel of the sanctuary as it gave value to the currency of the people.
I take it therefore from there that the importance of the value of the wealth of the sanctuary cannot be underestimated.
So when we get to the taxation issue for me it is because the right value of the sanctuary shekel will translate to the right value of the nation’s wealth.
From that perspective the church is rich, wealthy and we have no apology to make about that. If the church then be rich and wealthy why then would it be afraid to be taxed let alone for it to be known that it is rich?
Are we aware that the more we would feign or hide the very wealth level of the church we are denying the world to see the right value of Christ in the material representation of the church?
Those that want to hide it then should be honest enough to tell us that the wealth in the house of God does not belong to God.
If it belongs to God then let God defend it. It is part of His glory that He will not share with anyone else.
Let me hold my horses here for this Sunday and ask you to meet again with me in the coming Sunday! Shalom.