Part 4 Arts of the Temples
In the Gospels, we see the mother of Zebedee’s children1 requesting two offices for her sons in the Kingdom preached by Christ. She desired the left- and the right-hand seats on either side of the King for her sons. She knew Jesus was High Priest2 and King.
Jesus knew He had come to be the King who returned every man to his family and every man to his possessions.3 The right hand of government was to return to the people, according to God’s plan. This would make the people stronger. Taking their God-given responsibility back would return their God-given rights, making men whole again.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: Mt 6:3
The right hand of government was called the imperium by the Romans. It was divided into the merum, which dealt with foreign aggression and the mixtum, which dealt with the “wicked” within the jurisdiction of the civil state. These powers were granted by the people to the province of the Patronus (Our Father) of Rome. Under his patronage and tutorship, as the people registered their children, the power of the state grew.
The temples were a part of the left hand of government and originally depended upon the freewill and sin offerings of the people. The ancient altars of clay were formed of, by, and for the people to the benefit of their neighbor in charity and love. The wealth of the system was stored in brotherhood, and love through charity.
He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Luke 3:11
The national treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven is in the hearts of the people. Charity and hope beyond the family into the community and nation will maintain freedom under God, at home and abroad. As the right hand of man is freely given in the service of justice to our fellow man, so also the left hand serves their same need. Both elements of society gain God’s grace and are virtuously strengthened by such brotherhood.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: Matthew 6:3
Jesus also knew the king was not to appoint these offices from the top down. God would determine who would hold those offices and He would reveal it through the people in the pattern of tens and hundreds, choosing servants of servants, unto the highest servant.
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Mark 10:40-45, Matthew 20:21-26.
If God was in the hearts of the people, they would make the right choices. Even the highest servant was not allowed to rule over the people, nor return them to Egypt, nor make treaties. Each man would choose who would be their leading minister. There could be no voter fraud, no special interest takeover. Each leader was known intimately by ten men who was already chosen by ten men because of the trust and virtue and service found in them. Any corruption found at any level was directly accessible. Any coveting or taking from your neighbor was fundamentally forbidden. Protection and love of neighbor was as important as protection and love of self. There was no tax but charity only.
There was no central treasury to rob, no high office of power to make deals or be corrupted. Each individual had to accept responsibility for themselves, their family, and their neighbors. This was Christianity. As people sought righteousness and did the will of the Father in Heaven, the kingdom was edified in them and about them. Men of virtue flock to such a system and men of sloth and avarice, greedy for power and control, have no place in it.
This ancient of systems, preached anew by Christ and his disciples, divided the sheep from the goats and turned the world right-side up.
During times of grave trials and great tribulation, it is not distant dictators, hypothetical philosophies, or detached doctrines that cultivate loyalty, courage, and sacrifice in men, but it is the personal sacrifice of brotherhood that nurtures man’s virtuous nature. It is the shared bread in hunger, the donated cover against cold, and the sweat, blood, and life given freely that teaches love and patience, virtue and fortitude, and binds souls together as one body, one nation, a peculiar people, in the name of God, in this world and the next. It is the daily sacrifice of self for the rights of others that brings man to the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice, to live or die in service to the Lord of Lords.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Joh 15:13
A nation bound together in such brotherhood cannot be broken. Jesus knew that a nation built on force, control, and compliance will falter and fail as it fosters power and pride, fear and anger. When love fades in men, men fail. When charity is not exercised, virtue grows weak. When faith does not accrue, allegiance is abated. Use it or lose it.
Those who studied the histories of Israel understood the bloody sacrifice and burnt offerings of the Pharisees were nothing more than a travesty, if not heresy. Those who had sought to learn the ancient mysteries of the Kingdom knew that the altars of Abraham and Moses were built of men, not of dead stone. These unregulated individuals of noble conscience were men of grace to whom contributions of charity were granted by the freewill of the people. Their purpose was to care for the needy and needs of the community and to feed the sheep of the kingdom. They realized that these altars were a form of unregulated social insurance that strengthened the receiver as much as those who gave. It was this system that brought the whole nation together in a living network of brotherhood and love.
No man could take from or injure an Israelite without injuring the whole nation. No one could conquer such a nation unless they conquered every man and woman in it. The more you fought them, the stronger and more resolved they became. There seems a great power in hate and fear, but faith and love, like a rock, endures.
These ancient systems were designed to keep the nation strong and free in the face of what was often great adversity. The feasts were ceremonial rituals. Their purpose was to keep the nation together as one people in practical ways. They were designed to strengthen community by bringing families and congregations of families together into a national community of marriage and brotherhood of charity and choice.
The people knew that the family was the foundation of all society and there was no wisdom in weakening it, unless your hope was tyranny. Sons and Daughters look to their Father and Mother to teach them the lessons of life. The family was an extended family and the community intertwined under the perfect law of liberty. Each successive generation knew that they had to care for their own parents as well as the needy. Those who were without family support were cared for as a matter of custom and a common assurance of hope. In a system of godly charity, there is no entitlement, but only grace and the hope of it.
Moses established an assembly of Levites to minister to the congregations of the people. In the wilderness, the Levites had been called out by Him when the people tried to set up a central bank, likened to the temples in Egypt.
Again, this seems a foreign idea to most modern Christians. It is historical naivety to imagine that this calf of gold was anything more than a depository of wealth, designed to bind the people together into a loyal community of contributors and investors. By depositing all their wealth in the Golden Calf, they were assured that no one would desert without departing destitute. Gates were set up and men and wealth were kept in as well as out.
This practice was used in city-states in order to protect them against trade deficits and to guarantee loyalty. It also secured the power of the ruling elite. The walls served the purpose of keeping the people in as well as intruders out. The king of Sodom had put more value on the human resources than the treasure of his city. They had a system of accounting for the contributions and deposits of the enfranchised citizenry, and some form of exchange amongst the persons of the city was provided, but regulated in value.
Aaron, knowing the “arts of the temple”, accommodated the people in this alternative monetary system. He became the trustee of the temple, high priest, and benefactor of the people in a cestui que charitable trust. Moses was outraged and called the people to turn from their sinful ways of entrusting their family wealth in this unrighteous mammon. The Levites, as a people, answered the call to maintain an entrance and exit to the camp.4 The people were free again and the Golden Calf was dismantled and consumed.
Still, some system was needed to teach and aid the people in the ways of the Lord. The Levites were the firstborn of the Kingdom, as were the Apostles, the 120 families, and men like Stephen. Moses and Jesus knew where corruption would come from. Lovers of soft things and power were not the ones to put in charge. The Levites had proved their faith and courage, but Moses still forbid them to own land in their own name. Jesus had done the same for his called out and required that his ministers were to sell all their property and give to the poor, so that they had no inheritance.5
Some will tell you that Jesus only told the rich man to sell his things, but we see clearly in Luke 12:33, He states, “Sell that ye have, and give alms ....” He states this to his called disciples in relation to, Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He had already insisted they do this same thing in Luke 14:33 with, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Again, the word “hath” is from huparchonta meaning “property”.
The Apostles required new appointees to do the same as we have seen with the two ministers Joses, a Levite, and Ananias. These ministers of Christ’s Kingdom were dependent upon the contributions of the people, who only shared a portion of their wealth according to the service given by the ministers. These ministers did many thing to make their constituents successful. They aided with education, business, agriculture, marriage counseling. Every aspect of their life was important to the minister of God’s kingdom.
Such arrangements and requirements by Moses and Jesus did much to keep the ministers of that kingdom honest and dedicated. Men desiring power and riches did not seek such offices of service. This guaranteed responsive ministers in God’s government.
This was not the case in centralized, top-down governments, whether they were indirect democracies or a ruling king. Those who had power were tempted to seduce more from the people by offering them guaranteed benefits, entitlements.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” Pr 23:1-4
Christians did not apply for government benefits, social security, and welfare in Rome. Such benefits were readily available, but they operated much different than the plan of Christ, Moses, and Abraham. The first century Church bypassed the Roman and Hellenistic system of Herod and developed their own system according to the teachings of Christ and the prophets. We see in Acts 6:16 that the daily ministration to the widows and orphans was being neglected.
The Church established by Jesus Christ did not say go down to the Roman welfare office. It did not say join the system of Corban offered by, what John later calls, the synagogue of Satan.7 It told the people to “look out amongst itself and find men they trusted and bring them to us and we will appoint them over this business.” This common welfare was the business of the Church because the Church was the left hand of the Kingdom of God.
The Apostles did not appoint these ministers from the top down, but were simply overseers of what the people decided for themselves. Like Jesus, if they saw these men acting in a corrupt way, they would fire them as He did in the temple. The people could go back and re-elect them if they chose, rejecting Jesus, or choose new men to serve.
Jesus did not mix the left hand of government with the right hand and, therefore, all contributions were voluntary. There were no taxes, only freewill offerings. This had not been the case with the ministers in Judea. Passover messengers, once called singers,8 were sent from Jerusalem with an “issued proclamation” demanding the temple tribute, which could only be paid with the temple coin, the half-shekel. The money-exchanging porters, bankers, a.k.a. money-changers, would have their ‘tables’ set up across the country to make exchanges for those coins, which, for a short time, would be in high demand and exchanged at a premium.
“On the 25th of Adar business was only transacted within the precincts of Jerusalem and of the Temple, and after that date those who had refused to pay the impost could be proceeded against at law, and their goods distrained, the only exception being in favour of priests, and that ‘for the sake of peace, lest their office should come in disrepute.”9
The offerings of the people in support of the government was always voluntary in the Kingdom of God. God meant men to be free. This is why He called them out of Haran and took them out of Egypt and told them never to return nor should their leaders do anything to return them to that condition. Such freedom of choice left the responsibility of governance in the hands of the people, by the people, and for the people. The people knew from common sense and hard-learned lessons that, if they did not take responsibility to secure their neighbors rights, then they would soon suffer the consequences. Virtue rewarded righteousness, while sloth and avarice were their own companions. The people learned to give generously and discretely in freedom or faltered into folly and failure.
1Mt 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
2John 3:30 He must increase, but I [must] decrease.
3Le 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
4Ex 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, [and] go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
5Numbers 18:23-24, Numbers 26:62, Deuteronomy 14:27-29, Joshua 18:7.
6Ac 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
7Re 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
8Singers were like the heralds of the king who announced his will, but, in God’s Kingdom, the people were originally the princes of Israel for there was no king. The heralds or singers carried the message from public servants but the decision was carried back from the people to those servants. There was no authority for proclamations to the people. Ezr 7:7 And there went up [some] of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, …
9Alfred Edersheim’s book The Temple, p. 71.