Why I Don’t Make a Profit on My Studies

Yochanan (John) 2:13-16
13 Now the Passover of the Yahudim was at hand, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s House a house of merchandise!”

It can be really rough to make a go of it in ministry. Lots of people take, and very few people set their hearts apart to help promote the work that is being done through one. With that openly acknowledged, sometimes people wonder why I do not charge a profit on my works. On the one hand it seems completely counter-intuitive: by cutting out the profit margin, it almost obliterates the number of people willing to distribute and recommend one’s work. So if it damages circulation so badly, then why go that route? In my limited understanding, the answer is simply because, “That is what is right.”

Over time I have noticed that bringing the profit motive into ministry is one of the main reasons why there is no unity in the Body of Messiah today. The leaders and teachers, whose job it is to teach purity at all costs (even unto their death) have taken an easy route. Sure, it is lots easier to sell YHWH’s word, and commentaries on His word. But something wrong happens when we put a price tag on His word. All of a sudden, in an instant, Satan creeps in. Soon it is no longer about preaching YHWH’s word in purity and in truth, no matter how difficult it is, but one starts to look for ways to get ‘more of the market share.’ Brothers, is this what Yeshua died for?

I’m not talking about people covering their costs, selling books and DVD’s for what it costs them: I am talking about when ministers and teachers make a profit by selling the Things of YHWH for more than it costs them. I am talking about when people intentionally set out to make a profit, or to make a living by selling the Word, or by selling commentaries on the Word. All of a sudden, it takes it from the realm of the set-apart, and brings it into the world of the profane.

In Hebrew, the word ‘Holy’ is the word ‘Qodesh (קֹדֶשׁ) and it refers to something that is ‘set apart’ from the things of the regular world. It refers to something that is ‘set apart’ from normal money-making and commerce. It refers to something that is entirely spiritual, a sacrifice unto YHWH. I defy any man to show me how making money selling the things of YHWH constitutes a sacrifice unto Him.

Yeshua was very clear that we cannot serve two masters: we cannot serve both Elohim, and mammon (money). Either we will hate the one and love the other, or else we will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 6:24-25
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and mammon.

It is important to notice that the only time Yeshua ever became physically violent is when the merchants were selling things at a profit in His Father’s House.

Yochanan (John) 2:13-16
13 Now the Passover of the Yahudim was at hand, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

Brothers, let us be honest before the One who knows all: isn’t that really what happens when ministers and teachers monetize the Free Gift in our assemblies and gatherings? And if it is offered for more than cost, then how is it any longer the Free Gift?

If we are truthful, aren’t ministerial Book and DVD Sales really the exact same offense that led our Messiah to become physically violent? And when YHWH gives us insights for free, then how do you suppose He feels about us turning around and making a profit on it?

Can we talk? There is also an issue regarding unity and the merchandising of His word. Something subtle and insidious happens when one tries to make a living selling YHWH’s word at a profit. The ‘mass marketing’ incentive enters in, leading one to preach a broad, easy message, so that more people will want to buy one’s books and tapes.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 7:13-14
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Teaching the real truth out of love for YHWH’s people is not easy. Teaching the real truth out of love for YHWH’s people caused Isaiah to be sawn in two. It caused Jeremiah to get thrown into a pit. It caused Ezekiel to lose his wife, and to lay on his side for weeks on end. It caused Shaul to get whipped, and beaten with rods, and stoned, and flee for his life.

Qorintim Bet (2nd Corinthians) 11:23-28
23 Are they ministers of Messiah? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness —
28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the assemblies….

In all of this, did the Apostle Shaul charge for his letters? Or did he hand away the set-apart things of YHWH for free, just as he had received them?

Now it is true that the Apostle Shaul asked the people for support in just about every letter he ever wrote, but isn’t there a critical difference between giving away the things of YHWH for free and asking the people for love offerings of support, and putting a price tag on things? And if we depend upon sales for our livelihood, then isn’t there an incentive to avoid any difficult message that might not be readily heard?

Sacrifice is love. But where is the sacrifice in book sales?

We all have a requirement to witness and spread His word; and although it can be difficult, something beautiful happens when we go out of our way to share YHWH’s truth with others. It may take of our time, and it may take from our ability to earn money. It may damage our standing vis-à-vis the world. And yet, isn’t that sacrifice of time and mammon the very thing that shows YHWH we love Him the most?

And if we put a price tag on the Free Gift, is it any longer free? And how can the people come and partake of YHWH’s living waters without price, when you can’t get a copy unless you pay, because men have put a price tag upon it?

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:1-3
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you — The sure mercies of David.”

I believe one reason there is no unity in the House of Ephraim today is that book and DVD sales is killing it. How so?

When we live in the Dispersion we live under Satan’s shadow. We pay secular taxes for secular governance, where YHWH’s word is despised. Our streets are filled with violence because our children instructed contrary to His Instructions. We are judged by secular courts, so that justice is never done. At every turn, the secular government seeks to undermine the Torah and the lifestyle of Scripture; and our children are taught to embrace ‘alternative’ lifestyles.

In contrast, in YHWH’s world there is no separation between Body and State. There are no secular taxes, and no secular government. Israel is one entity, one organism, and one family. What any man in Israel does impacts all of the others in Israel, because we are one people.

When we live in the Land, Israel is to be governed by a system of three flat tithes, plus as a ten percent ‘flat tax’, which goes to support the kingship (who is essentially commander of the army). These are specifically ‘flat taxes’ (or ‘flat tithes’). The reason this is important is that it puts both the kingship and the priesthood (i.e., ‘government’) on profit and loss. When the ‘government (the kingship and the priesthood) help the people to do well economically, the kingship’s and the priesthood’s revenues also increase. And when the ‘government’ does not help the people to prosper, their revenues go down also. Consider the sweeping impact that this factor alone would have on government.

In YHWH’s flat-tax/flat-tithe system, when the king and the priesthood help the people to succeed, the king and the priesthood also succeed. YHWH’s system is a mutually-symbiotic arrangement designed to benefit all within Israel. It is all for one, and one for all. But where is this kind of brotherhood, when one’s whole responsibility is to sell books and DVD’s, to keep one’s own ministry afloat: and that is the extent of one’s concern?

B’reisheet (Genesis) 4:9
9 Then YHWH said to Qayin, “Where is Havel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The job of a priest is essentially that of a shepherd, which is to say that he is his brother’s keeper. The priest is duty-bound to provide teaching and instruction in Torah to YHWH’s people for free, since his livelihood is to be paid for by this ten percent flat tithe. Yet this also gives an additional benefit, since it requires the priests all to work together in unison to benefit the nation as a whole. This need to work in unison is what brings about unity. Notice how contrary this is to the book-sales ethic of “I am only responsible for me.”

What did YHWH instruct us to do? YHWH purposed the First Tithe to support all of the priesthood in their work, together. It requires the utmost of teamwork. The First Tithe was always brought up to one central place and distributed fairly. It was supposed to cover all of the ministers’ expenses start to finish, so they could serve YHWH and the people without having to worry about their bodily needs; and it also paid for a system of judges.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 18:19-20
19 “All the heave offerings of the set apart things, which the children of Israel offer to YHWH, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before YHWH with you and your descendants with you.”
20 Then YHWH said to Aharon: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.
21 “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
22 Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die.
23 But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
24 For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to YHWH, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'”

Notice how very different this is from the current system that exists in Ephraim today, where the Ephraimite people only buy the books and DVD’s they are interested in, and then they think they have done the whole of their duty. But does buying only the books and DVD’s one is interested in bring the priesthood together? Does it honestly lead to unity?

If keeping Torah was simply a matter of buying the books and DVD’s one was interested in, then this is what YHWH would have commanded, and it also would have been the legacy that the apostles left us. But is this what the apostles did? Do we have any example anywhere of the apostles selling their works to ‘make budget’? No we do not: and with good reason.

Another serious issue with ministers only looking out for themselves is that not everyone who is called to ministry has the same calling, or even the same gifts: and yet all are needed. That is, teaching is not the only thing that ministers are supposed to do.

All teachers are ministers, but not all ministers are teachers. There are also those who are called to perform ministries of helps, healings, administrations, missionary work, and much more. All of these need support: but not all teach, or write books.

Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 12:28-29
28 And Elohim has appointed these in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

What happens to unity in the House of Ephraim when one minister is a good speaker, but he avoids the difficult subjects; and so he sells his books and tapes, and keeps all of the money for himself? Does it help to provide for those who do outreach to the homeless, or help those who are serving in prison ministries? How does it help missionaries in India, Africa, or South America? Does it help those who are called to do family counseling? Does it help those who work orphans and widows? Are these things unimportant?

When the ministers only concern themselves with their ministries, how does it bring the House of Ephraim together as one man? How does it bring unity with other ministers? I would submit to you that it does not bring unity: and in fact, it does the exact opposite. And it also lulls the people into thinking that they have done their part, simply because they bought the books and tapes of those who teach it is OK to monetize the Free Gift.

YHWH purposed the Second Tithe as the People’s Tithe. The people were supposed to use it to go up to Jerusalem at the three pilgrimage festivals; and they were also to buy whatever their hearts desired.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 14:22-26
22 “You shall surely tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
23 And you shall eat before YHWH your Elohim in the place where He chooses to make His Name abide, the tithe (singular) of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, so that you may learn to fear YHWH your Elohim always.
24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where YHWH your Elohim chooses to put His Name is too far from you, when YHWH your Elohim has blessed you,
25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which YHWH your Elohim chooses.
26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before YHWH your Elohim, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

One of the really neat things about the Second Tithe is that it belonged to the people. Three times a year, whatever was left over from the trip went to buy that new computer you wanted, or new cell phones for the kids or a better car for your wife. You could also buy gifts for the poor, if that is what your heart desired. The ‘People’s Tithe’ was that money, and it helped to make YHWH’s festival times special for the children, so that they would grow up loving it. Have we traded that heritage away for the privilege of buying books and DVD’s at a profit?

The Third Tithe was offered two out of every seven years, and was to be distributed by the priesthood. Its primary purpose was that of supporting the poor, the widow and the orphan, but the Levites were also to eat of it during that time while they were overseeing its fair distribution.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 14:28-29
28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.
29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that YHWH your Elohim may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

Now, it can be argued that book and DVD sales are essentially YHWH’s way of replacing the First and Third Tithes whenever there is no Temple. It has been said that when ministers sell the insights that YHWH gives them, that this is just ‘the worker being worthy of his hire.’ The problem with that is that it provides a total counter-incentive to unity, and it also does nothing to take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan within our midst. Is that what YHWH wants?

When I look at Scripture, I just don’t see the apostles ever selling the Word. I don’t see Kepha (Peter) selling the insights that YHWH gave him. I do not see the Apostle Shaul writing to the Corinthians, telling them, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me, you can find the answer to your questions in my exciting new book, which sells for only thirty nine shekels and ninety-five agurot! Order your copy now!”

I don’t know about you, brothers, but I find it sickening to think that Yeshua died, so that those who do not value unity can sell the free insights that YHWH gives them for a profit.

Now it is true that the Apostle Shaul lovingly asked the people for voluntary support in almost every epistle he ever wrote; but can we imagine him putting a price tag on the insights that YHWH had given to him? Did he not say that charging for those insights would be an abuse of his authority in the Good News?

Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 9:16-18
16 For if I preach the Good News, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the Good News!
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have (only) been entrusted with a stewardship.
18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the Good News, I may present the Good News of Messiah without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the Good News.

And there is also an issue of trust. YHWH makes it hard to be a true minister. One has to hand away for free what YHWH gives, and then one has to pray for YHWH to provide. But do we have that trust?

Brother, if you are a minister, do you have the trust to believe that YHWH will move on His people’s hearts to provide for you, so that you can do the job right? Do you believe that if YHWH can create the heavens and the earth in six days, that He can provide for you? And if He is not providing for you, then are you really doing His work by putting a shopping cart on your website?

Brother, if the apostles were alive today, do you think they would have shopping carts on their websites? And would they charge $39.95 for their works?

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 10:8
8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Brothers, can you imagine the prophets charging for the words that YHWH gave through them? Was there ever an “Isaiah Publishing House” or a “Jeremiah Press”?

If YHWH gives you a word, do you own it? By what right?

If you are a minister I would ask you to think seriously on these things, and to take them to heart. I believe that book and DVD sales are the number #1 reason why there is no unity or any real teamwork in the House of Ephraim today.

Running a ministry is expensive. It takes way more resources than most people would imagine. And yet if Yeshua were here today, wouldn’t He take a whip of cords, and drive the DVD merchants out of His Father’s set-apart places?

Yochanan (John) 2:13-16
13 Now the Passover of the Yahudim was at hand, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s House a house of merchandise!”

Selling ‘messianica’ is fine: there is nothing wrong with selling a shofar, or a tallit. But brothers, when will we, the Ephraimite People, take to heart that if we put a price tag on it, it isn’t any longer ‘ministry’, but business?

I beg you, brothers, please do not profane YHWH’s set apart things, either by buying, or by selling YHWH’s word. Please keep the things of sacrifice as sacrifice, and please keep His set apart name pure.

I ask you in Yeshua’s name,

Amein.

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