Written by Femi Aribisala
takes your money by brandishing a bible.
religious leaders of biblical days. He told them: “‘It is written, my house
shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
pastors in the churches of today. They come up with all kinds of schemes
designed to squeeze money out of their church-members. They search the
scriptures, looking for quotable quotes that can be used to make merchandise of
men. Some of their favourites are those scriptures dealing with giving
first-fruits to priests.
“ember” in English are sometimes referred to as the “ember” months. These
include September, October, November and December. Strictly-speaking, October
does not fit this bill; otherwise it would have been called “Octoember.”
Nevertheless, it is conventional also to include it as one of the “ember”
change of emphasis in the messages preached by pastors in many of today’s new
generation churches. If you have been paying attention, you would have noticed
this already. In the “ember” months, pastors start to talk repeatedly about the
need to give “first-fruits;” laying down the foundation for a major robbery
routinely planned for January.
were required to be given to priests. Ezekiel says: “The best of all the
first-fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests.”
(Ezekiel 44:30). This scripture is seized on by today’s money-grubbing pastors
who now insist that the “first-fruits” of all the members of their congregation
must be handed over to them.
New Testament, there is actually no longer an exclusive priesthood. Instead,
Jesus has made all believers: “kings and priests to our God.” (Revelation
5:10). But this fact is conveniently ignored by today’s first-fruits
because they were not allowed to own landed-property in Israel. God said: “I am
to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession
in Israel; I will be their possession.” (Ezekiel 44:28-29).
men of means and property owners. In no way whatsoever do they fit the bill of
a people without inheritance who only have God as their possession. Indeed,
some of today’s mega-pastors are multi-millionaires who drive around with
bodyguards in a cortege of Jeeps and even fly around in private jets.
were strictly-speaking agricultural produce. Moses says: “The first of the first-fruits
of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.” (Exodus
23:19). This shows first-fruits were crops. Indeed, money was never regarded as
first-fruit in the bible; neither was it ever paid as such.
find it funny if you were to bring your first-fruits to them in bananas or
pineapples. First-fruits are now only acceptable in cash or cheque. If you ask
why, don’t be surprised if you are told that: “Money is the answer to
everything.” (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
required from Jews living in Israel because God gave them their land.
First-fruits were inapplicable to Israelites living in foreign lands. This also
means first-fruits are inapplicable to today’s Christians who are mostly
non-Israelis and do not live in Israel. Nevertheless, pastors hoodwink
Christians by claiming there are special blessings attendant upon giving
first-fruits to pastors anywhere.
not required from those in non-agrarian trades, such as carpenters or fishermen
because these professions were not tied to the land. However, today’s
opportunist pastors collect first-fruits from anybody and everybody.
foregoing therefore that pastors who insist on collecting first-fruits in the
churches of today are nothing but thieves and robbers. The armed robber takes
your money from you with a gun in his hand: the pastor takes your money by
brandishing a bible.
first-fruits were defined as a Christian’s first salary after leaving school
and securing gainful employment. But some pastors quickly realised that this
only gives them the right to a Christian’s salary once in a lifetime.
Therefore, this soon became inadequate, leading to more ingenious and more
financially lucrative biblical “revelations” about first-fruits.
the January salary is the first in the year, it legally falls under the
definition of first-fruits. Therefore, they now require that all church-goers
hand over to them their entire January salaries in the name of first-fruits.
This makes the first-fruits boon far more profitable than the tithe; which is
just a tenth of the Christian’s salary. Moreover, the tithe is nominally given
to “the church.” The “first-fruits” is a far more rewarding scam because the
money is specifically addressed to the pastor.
effectively, a pastor can make a bundle of money at the beginning of every year.
Just do the maths. Imagine a situation where the pastor gets the January salary
of every single member of his congregation. Depending on the size of his
church, he can get in one bonanza enough money to last him a lifetime. Is it
any wonder, therefore, that pastors are very zealous in preaching about
first-fruits in the “ember” months?
their churches. Turn onto Christian television such as the Trinity Broadcasting
Network in the “ember” months, and you are likely to find Paula White or Steve
Munsey extolling the blessings of giving first-fruits. Of course, the
first-fruits must be sent to them and to no one else.
with a large branch-network, the pastors were making a killing collecting
first-fruits. But one of them used the money to put up a church building. This
went a long way to endear him to his congregants. Other pastors who had nothing
to show for the first-fruits they collected became concerned that the pastor
would soon bring them into disrepute. So they decided to take “appropriate”
Overseer of the church. His transgression was that he put up an entire church
building single-handedly. So doing, they claimed, he prevented others from
getting blessed by not taking contributions from them. The General Overseer
wondered where he got the money to erect the entire building by himself. So
they told him the money came from the first-fruits he collected from his
more curious. Just how much first-fruit were these pastors collecting? He was
astonished to discover the sums involved. It was unacceptable that such
lucrative business was taking place in his churches without due recognition for
his position. Therefore, he fired a memo to all his parishes: henceforth, all
first-fruits must be forwarded intact to headquarters.
Thereafter, his subordinate pastors noticeably lost all interest in collecting
first-fruits. “Let everybody shout hallelujah.”
have enough. And they are pastors who cannot understand; they all look to their
own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory.” (Isaiah 56:11).