Feb 22, '08 9:08 PM
Greetings and Salutations!
Ready for another day?
Excellent! Well, let's don't waste time and get cracking right out of the box.
We left off last week talking about the concept of robbing God by not giving the full tithe and/or eating of their tithe. Malachi's prophecy (3:8-12) tells us that God will rebuke the devourer for our sakes IF we bring ALL the tithe into the storehouse.
There are several things to consider in this Word.
First, we've already mentioned the fact that when Adam and Eve ate of the "Holy portion" in the Garden, they ate death to themselves. The same is true today of Christians who skimp on their tithes. They give the "devourer" the right to devour the work of their hands, the fruit of their labors, the monies and finances that come into their hands -- and what's more, the devourer attacks their physical well-being. They suffer health problems.
The health problems these people suffer cause them to spend money they can't afford to spend. Some folks spend upwards of $1,000 per month on prescriptions, doctor visits, hospitalization -- you name it -- and that's on top of what they pay for health insurance! And it is so unnecessary! The simple truth is that folks would stop robbing God and eating of their tithe, they'd have more than enough to meet their needs. God's Word clearly and emphatically promises that He will rebuke (the Hebrew word here is øòÇbˆ-- gha.ar, which means to reprove, to address harshly, to put in check) the devourer who consumes the work and the fruit of your labors. The essence of God's promise is that He will put a stop to the drain on your finances and resources.
You've seen it, no doubt. You just get your paycheck and you're figuring out how to make it stretch to cover the bills, meet some needs, and (hopefully) pay your tithes. You're on your way to work and the transmission goes out on your car. The car is out of warranty, so you're faced with a repair bill of anywhere from $1500 to $5000 and more (depending on what you drive). If you've developed a decent credit rating and have a credit card with enough room to pay the bill, you're still stuck with the credit-card payment and ungodly interest rates that take a chunk out of your paycheck.
Maybe it is your fourteen-year-old son or daughter. They are involved in athletic activities and get injured. The injury is only partially covered by insurance, and you've got a significant doctor bill to pay. Where's the money going to come from?
The answer really is simple: pay your tithes -- BEFORE YOU PAY ANYTHING ELSE! Maybe it will be a bit scary at first, but if you will commit yourself to paying your tithes (in faith, I might add) -- the whole tithe and not just part of it -- you'll see the Lord intervene for you financially. Maybe the intervention will be bill cancellation. Maybe it will be an unexpected raise in pay. Maybe it will be money coming from some unexpected and unforeseen avenue. However the Lord does it, He will take care of the devourer. Your monies will stretch to meet the need.
But there's another side of tithing that somehow gets lost in translation, and that's where you pay your tithe. God's instruction to Israel was that they bring the tithe to the priests, the Levites. Malachi's prophecy commands the tithe to be brought " into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house." That is a clear command to bring your tithe into the place of your spiritual sustenance. Generally, that turns out to be your church home. There are exceptions to this rule, and I'll get to that momentarily.
The place you call "home" -- the church fellowship you've become a part of -- is the source of your spiritual feeding. The tithe is intended to ensure that the pastor (or church leadership, by whatever name or title you put on it) has the liberty to spend his time in the Word without fretting over whether he has to work a secular job in order to meet his needs. A secular job would mean he isn't available to spend the requisite time with the Lord, hearing from God, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, investing himself in the Word so that he (or she, as the case may be) has something of value to minister in order to grow you up spiritually.
In today's world, the tithe often gets spread around to meet the expenses of operating a church building in addition to (and sometimes instead of) providing an income for the church leadership. That's wrong! The tithe should go exclusively to the pastor or leader of the church fellowship, and a secondary or tertiary (remember the picture of the "year of tithing" in Deuteronomy 26?) tithe takes care of the operational expenses.
A recent Gallup poll suggested that there are an increasing number of born-again, committed Christians who have left the traditional church structure out of disgust and disappointment over the incursion of liberalism within the church. Many of them (27% is the number I remember) do not even participate in home fellowships, but rather get their spiritual food from the myriad of television programs and televised church services where there are ministers of the Gospel who actually preach sound doctrine and have something of value to give. While this is not a venue I recommend to anyone because it cuts out the personal fellowship and interaction one critically needs in order to grow as a believer, it serves as a temporary means until people can find out where the Lord wants to place them.
In this case, whatever television ministry becomes your primary source of spiritual growth and feeding also becomes your "storehouse"; and this is where your tithe belongs. When the time comes that you do find a church home or fellowship to which you can belong and become an integral part of, you may shift your tithe to that fellowship. However, you may want to consider partnering with the television ministry even after finding a church home (and that's a subject we'll get to bye and bye).
Before I get away from this thought, it is important to remember (and I've shared this in the past) -- if you are one of those folks who have left the traditional church in disgust and disappointment -- that you need to specifically seek God and ask Him where He wants to place you. Instead of simply moving away and finding a church or fellowship close to where you live, you need to first find out where God wants to incorporate you. Then you make your move.
One more thing. I have often advised folks that, if necessary, they need to seriously put their vocation before the Lord. Maybe God wants to use you in some vocation or avenue you've rejected because "I'm not trained for that." You may even argue that you've got four, or even eight, years invested in college or university training for some skill or profession. Give it to the Lord. Be willing to walk away from that profession if the Holy Spirit so directs and indicates in your spirit.
I can use my own training and background as an example. My "secular" college training was in Chemistry (oh, and English as well), and I thought to become a chemist. Added to that was my military training in demolitions. The Lord didn't take me in either of those directions. I even trained to become a Chiropractor, but stopped six months shy of my degree and certificate when it became clear that was not the direction or purpose of the Lord. (I've used all of this training in the years since, but just not as a career.) You get the picture. My avocation (or tent-making trade, as the apostle Paul had) actually turned into the field of electronics.
What's even stranger about all that is that I have no formal training in the field of electronics engineering. I have no engineering degrees (although I was offered an honorary degree twice) and no college or university education in it; and yet I've been honored in Who's Who in Science and Engineering for a number of years for my contributions to those disciplines. How did that happen? I responded to the direction of the Lord, and He supernaturally gave me the ability and understanding to function in a field for which I had no normal education.
I've seen this happen to a number of folks throughout the years when they responded to the specific direction of the Lord. The Holy Spirit imbues believers with gifts and abilities for which they have no natural or educational training -- so long as they respond to His direction for them.
I went through a period in my life where I actually was dumb enough to believe that tithing was something restricted to the "curse of the law" and that Christians were only commanded to "give" and give generously without paying attention to the tithe. Worse, I even preached against tithing!
Make no mistake. Della and I have always been "givers." We have without exception throughout the years been generous givers and loved doing it. What somehow got lost was the fact that the tithe is a part of the covenant relationship we have with God, that tithing per se preceded the Law by many hundreds of years, and that it is clearly commanded as part of the blessing of Abraham provided through Jesus' putting an end to the curse. When folks give randomly, or without specific purpose and understanding of the covenant that comes through the tithe, their hit and miss giving results in hit and miss finances. We found ourselves in hit and miss finances because of my lack of understanding of the covenant part of tithing.
The Kingdom of God -- and Kingdom Economics -- are entirely predicated in a covenantal relationship with the Lord. I don't want to spend a lot of time dealing with this covenant today, but let's at least take a quick overview. I've written on this topic before, so let me borrow from a portion of what I've already said.
The principles of tithing are the principles of blessing.
Ever notice how Abraham was blessed? Abraham was a tither.
Take a look at the first reference to his tithing in Genesis 14:18-20: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine;
now he was a priest of God Most High, and he blessed him and said, Blessed be
Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most
High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him a tenth of
There’s a principle here about tithing that distinguishes it from conventional giving. Melchizedek, the king of Salem (and I’ve talked about him on many occasions) was also the Priest of God. Understand that this predated Moses. It predated the Levitical priesthood. It predated the Law of Moses and all its ordinances.
Melchizedek was both a forerunner type of Christ, and a forerunner of an era of priests to come. He was a priest of God, a man who ordered the worship of God in an era when the only priests were Babylonian or Baal-worshipers. Melchizedek stood out like a sore thumb in the region. He differed from all other priests in that he had true authority from the Lord.
Abraham recognized God’s authority in Melchizedek and offered up his tithes to him as the representative of the Most High. Abraham’s tithing was not so much to Melchizedek as it was to the Lord, who had just given him an enormous military victory, the like of which was unprecedented for the time.
Abraham’s tithing, therefore, was a way to offer up worship and honor to the God of all gods, and to reaffirm the covenant God had made with him when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees and covenanted with him to make him the father of many nations. Never before in Scripture was there a record of anyone offering tithes to the Lord.
Abraham, therefore, became the father of tithing and the example of how all future tithers would give: i.e., to the Lord! His freely given and spontaneous act of giving a tenth of all that he had also became the benchmark for tithing as an act of worship.
Now take a look at what Paul the apostle has to say about Abraham’s tithing. In Hebrews 7:5-10, Paul writes, “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises."
“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.”
You see the picture, don’t you? Abraham became the pattern for the sons of Levi to follow by God’s command. God ordered that they receive tithes of all Israel in order that ministry to the Lord would continue unabated in Israel through the Levites. The Lord was their portion in Israel. They had no tribal territory. They had no spoils of war to take as their inheritance from the accursed nations. They simply lived and fulfilled their ministerial duties throughout all the tribes of Israel.
Levi and his sons payed tithes to the Lord also. But their tithing was accounted as though they were paying tithes through their ancestor Abraham in the same way that Abraham paid tithes to the Lord. The pattern in Abraham, and the covenant established by God with him, is outlined in I Kings 17. (KJV)
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee."
“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee…”
Abrahamâs earlier tithing was symbolic of his worship of God. It established that all that he had, all the victories he gained over his enemies, all his cattle, his flocks and his possessions were the gift of God and therefore His (Godâs) in the first place. Giving back a tenth of that to the Lord was Abrahamâs way of honoring God and openly recognizing that he was blessed by God because of the covenant God had made with him.
Was Abraham blessed? You can say that again! By all accounts, Abraham became one of the richest men, if not THE richest man, of his era. The tithing which began when he gave tithes to Melchisedek was the pattern for the blessing that followed. It became part and parcel of Abrahamâs keeping of the covenant between the Lord and him. It was only natural, therefore, that Abrahamâs seed in Israel keep that covenant. Godâs command, after all, was“Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.”
The covenant of tithing was integral to Gods covenant with Abraham and evidenced in Abrahamâs seed in the generations that followed. We can say, as a consequence, that tithing though incorporated in the Mosaic Law was NOT something legalistic: it was covenantal!
God's covenant with Abraham established a once-and-for-all promise between Himself and Abraham. That covenant provided total care for Abraham and total provision for every conceivable need. That covenant established a picture of the Blessing which became thereafter forever referred to as "The Blessing of Abraham."
That blessing is part and parcel of the foundation of Kingdom Economics.
This is where we'll stop for today; and I'll see you again in a few days.
Citizens of the Kingdom of God are designed, trained and prepared to live a glorious, supernatural life in a natural world so that the world can see what Satan has cheated them out of. We are supposed to be the manifestation of the Glory of God -- not leftover has-beens, used up and discarded by Satan.
The Blessing of the Lord: it makes rich and adds no painful toil and sorrow! Be blessed!
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