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Donation Or Bribe?

(This study is within the Bible studies Be Perfect and Urim And Thummim.)


Deuteronomy 16:18-20 – See the note below.

18 "You shall appoint for yourself judges [8199- “to judge, govern, deliver, rule”] and officers in all your towns [8179] which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge [8199] the people with righteous [6664- “justice, rightness”] judgment [4941].

19 "You shall not distort [5186] justice [4941]; you shall not be partial [5234- “to recognize, acknowledge, regard, respect”], and you shall not take a bribe [7810- “a donation, a present, a bribe”], for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts [5557] the words of the righteous [6662- “just, lawful, righteous”].

20 "Justice [6664], and only justice [6664], you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

NASU

OT:8179 sha`ar (shah'-ar)

(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

from OT:8176 in its original sense; an opening, i.e. door or gate:

KJV - city, door, gate, port (X -er).

(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)

a gate

a) a gate (used of entrance)

b) a gate (used of the space inside agate, that is, the marketplace, a public meetingplace); a city, a town

c) a gate (used of a palace, a royal castle, a temple, the court of a tabernacle)

d) Heaven, Sheol (figurative)

OT:5186 natah (naw-taw')

(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

a primitive root; to stretch or spread out; by implication, to bend away (including moral deflection); used in a great variety of application (as follows):

KJV - afternoon, apply, bow (down, -ing), carry aside, decline, deliver, extend, go down, be gone, incline, intend, lay, let down, offer, outstretched, overthrown, pervert, pitch, prolong, put away, shew, spread (out), stretch (forth, out), take (aside), turn (aside, away), wrest, cause to yield.

(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)

to stretch out, to extend, to spread out, to pitch, to turn, to pervert, to incline, to bend, to bow

a) (Qal)

1) to stretch out, to extend, to stretch, to offer

2) to spread out, to pitch (a tent)

3) to bend, to turn, to incline

a) to turn aside, to incline, to decline, to bend down

b) to bend, to bow

c) to hold out, to extend (figurative)

b) (Niphal) to be stretched out

c) (Hiphil)

1) to stretch out

2) to spread out

3) to turn, to incline, to influence, to bend down, to hold out, to extend, to thrust aside, to thrust away

OT:5557 calaph (saw-laf')

(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

a primitive root; properly, to wrench, i.e. (figuratively) to subvert:

KJV - overthrow, pervert.

(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)

to twist, to pervert, to distort, to overturn, to ruin

(Piel)

1) to pervert (used of bribery)

2) to subvert, to turn upside down, to ruin

In Moses’ instructions for Israel when they entered the Promised Land, he told them to appoint judges that “shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” (See chapter 17 in Deuteronomy for God’s way to administer justice. Is this the manner in which we will reign and rule in the millennium?)

I think “towns” in verse 18 isn’t the best interpretation. The Hebrew word for it is defined as “an opening, i.e. door or gate.” It’s interpreted more often as “gate.” I like this more because the gate in a city is where the local court was convened. It refers more to a place of governmental ruling and decisions. When it is carried out with righteous judgments it is for “peace in the gates.” Without the administering of justice per the laws of God (i.e. righteous judgment) within any organization or government you will have the opposite; war, unrest, conflict, strife, discord and trouble.

The Lord declared through the prophet Zechariah, “‘These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord.” (Zechariah 8:16-17/NASU)

They were also commanded to not “distort” or pervert justice, to not show partiality, and to not take a bribe which “blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”


Donation Or Bribe?

The definitions for the Hebrew word interpreted as “bribe” in this passage opens up a whole new understanding of giving in the church. It’s defined as “a donation, a present, a bribe.” In some verses it is interpreted as “gift.” The intent of the heart in this determines whether or not the wrath of God will come upon you, and others.

A bribe is also referred to as “hush money.” It is a gift or reward of some type of compensation, usually money, in order to persuade someone to act in a certain manner or to say, or not say, things that you want them to. In other words the intent is not honest but rather of an evil nature of persuasion, for illegal or dishonest gain or leverage. We see this often within politics and the business world, but this also applies to the heart of giving in the church.

Again, one of the definitions for this word is “donation.” If within the church one of the donors threatens to not give if they disagree with what either the pastor is proclaiming or the church is doing, and the intent of the giver is evil (not according to God’s will), then his “donation” has just become a bribe, with strings attached. If for fear of losing money the pastor softens his word and gives in to the wicked demands of the person, then he has just received a bribe that will, as Moses warned, blind the eyes of the wise and pervert (twist) the words of the righteous. In many churches, in particular large ones with large budgets, this has become commonplace. In God’s eyes, the intent of the heart determines whether we are guilty or innocent.

In his Psalm, David revealed to us what the walk of a “blameless/perfect” man looks like (see the Bible study Noah; A Sign Of The End);

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless [8549- “perfect, blameless, sincerity, entire, complete, whole, full”] and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”

(Psalm 15:1-5/NIV; also see Psalm 26)


The Lord declared through the prophet Isaiah;


“See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her — but now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.”

(Isaiah 1:21-23/NIV)


Because of this the Lord declared that He would judge them, removing the wicked from among them when they wouldn’t (1 Corinthians 5:2). Today the leaders in the church often give into them, thereby compromising the truth for monetary gain, causing God’s ways to be perverted. Proverbs 17:23 declares, “A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice.” (NKJV)


Justice For All; Without Partiality


The Lord went on to declare His judgment against the rebels among His people;

“I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City. Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness. But rebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the Lord will perish.”

(Isaiah 1:26-28/NIV)


Many in the church believe this Old Testament example could never happen to us today. They are about to discover the foolishness of their ways, that they are “dead wrong” when He removes them in His wrath. His justice demands His righteous judgment on the stiff-necked and rebellious among His own children. His justice is without favorites or partiality. Again, if we had judged the body rightly, with the “perfect light” of God, His Urim and Thummim (i.e. “lights and perfections”) over our hearts, this would not occur.

In Jeremiah 5:26 the Lord declared that “wicked men are found among My people.” And so it is today in the church among Christians who have strayed from the Lord and not repented from their lawlessness. Through truth and justice for all He will cast them out of His kingdom when He returns (Matthew 8:11-2, 13:41-43).

2 Chronicles 19:5-11 – Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, made some major reforms while bringing Israel back to God. One was the appointment of Judges that he gave the following exhortation to. If they did not judge the body rightly in the fear of the Lord, by having no part in unrighteousness or partiality, or the taking of a bribe, they would be guilty before the Lord and His wrath would be on them and their brethren. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11:27-34.

There are many other verses in both the Old and New Testaments that refer to not judging with partiality, but to judge righteously with the judgment of God, without favoritism (Psalm 82:1-2; Proverbs 18:5, 24:23, 28:21; Malachi 2:1; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; 1 Timothy 5:21; James 2:1, 9).

5 He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city.

6 He said to the judges, "Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you [see the Bible study Emmanuel; God With Us] when you render judgment.

7 "Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness [5766- “injustice, wrong”] or partiality [4856- “regarding of persons, a lifting up”] or the taking of a bribe [see Deut. 16:19 above]."

8 In Jerusalem also Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the heads of the fathers' households of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord and to judge disputes among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

9 Then he charged them saying, "Thus you shall do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully [530- “firmness, faithfulness, truth”] and wholeheartedly [8003].

10 "Whenever any dispute comes to you from your brethren who live in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and ordinances, you shall warn them so that they may not be guilty before the Lord, and wrath may not come on you and your brethren. Thus you shall do and you will not be guilty.

11 "Behold, Amariah the chief priest will be over you in all that pertains to the Lord, and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, in all that pertains to the king. Also the Levites shall be officers before you. Act resolutely, and the Lord be with the upright." [See the Bible study Emmanuel; God With Us.]

NASU


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