ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: KINGDOM ECONOMICS XXXV
Mar 27, '09 5:19 PM
By Regner Capener
And a good, good morning to you! This is the best day of your life! Yessirree! It is! And it's only going to get better.
I'm still not quite back on track for my regular schedule of Coffee Breaks, but things are improving.
My thanks to all those of you who have written and expressed congratulations to us over our move to Prosser; and to those of you in Prosser who have welcomed us, Thank You! I apologize for not having had the time to respond to each of you individually, but I will catch up on my correspondence in the coming days and weeks.
We've been away from the topic of Kingdom Economics for several months. There's much yet to share, and I'd like to share with you today a unique revelation of tithing and God's Holy Portion.
In previous discussions on the subject of Kingdom Economics, I've shared the picture of tithing and the importance it plays in our finances, and the critical necessity of not touching the Holy Portion for any personal or individual purpose.
Just to recap past discussions, there is a priority in our financial picture, and this priority overrides every other priority in our giving. The first tenth of our income or increase in any area belongs to God, and there is a self-induced penalty that comes with not giving God His portion and using it to pay bills, buy food for our families, or use it in some other way to benefit us personally or members of our family. I refer to it as "self-induced" because we bring a curse upon ourselves by our choice to use that tenth portion of our increase. We open the door for "the devourer" (Malachi 3:11) when we withhold God's portion by our own choices and actions.
Deuteronomy 26 identifies the priorities. In this instance, the Lord is speaking of "the year of tithing" in which there was a triple tithe, and we see the order of giving laid out like this:
"When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto (1st tenth) the Levite, (second tenth) the stranger, (third tenth) the fatherless and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled....."
"The Levite" was the priest -- the keeper of the storehouses, and the administrator of God's Word (and His commandments) to the people. "The Levite" was the representative of God who offered up the sacrifices and offerings for the people.
God's people were obligated, as well, to give to the "stranger(s)" in their midst. In so doing, they demonstrated the principle of God's love and caused the "stranger" to desire the same relationship with God.
The third tithe took care of the widows and fatherless children, and there was a spiritual mandate in their midst to take care of them. Understand that while the priests and the Levites certainly distributed from their storehouses to make up any shortfalls, the responsibility for the care of the widow who was not of remarriageable age and any fatherless children fell on their remaining family members -- not on the priestly leaders and elders.
Nevertheless, by commandment of the Lord, every third year of a seven-year cycle, a third tithe was set aside to care for and supplement the unmet needs of the widows and fatherless. During that same third year, a tithe was also set aside in order to have the wherewithal to provide for any unmet needs of those strangers who became a part of Israel.
All that is an aside to where I want to take this discussion. We're talking about the economy of the Kingdom of God. This is an economy that functions completely opposite to the economies of this world. Its very premise is foreign to the financial thinkers of this world who operate on debt and credit. What I'm about to share with you is about as clear a picture from the Word as you'll ever see when it comes to the extreme differences between the way this world thinks and the way God wants us to think.
Probably some sixteen or seventeen years ago, Rick Joyner (MorningStar Ministries) published a book titled, THERE WERE TWO TREES IN THE GARDEN. Australian Pastor, Evangelist and Prophet, Neville Johnson, has likewise taught (and has available from his Living Word Foundation) a series on Two Trees in the Garden. It's a concept just about all Christians are aware of: (1) The Tree of Life, and (2) The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
However, we know from Scripture that there were many trees in the Garden of Eden.
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." (Genesis 1:29)
"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9)
Entomologists today tell us that there are some 50,000-plus species of trees in the earth. In a discussion a week ago or so with Bob Widmann (Pastor of Cornerstone Assembly in Sunnyside) he mentioned he had learned that all of the species of trees on the earth derive from nine basic genus of trees. That really piqued my interest and I decided to do some research.
Bob was correct in his statement. I stumbled onto a couple of books by Terry L. Erwin in his series on Biodiversity. Dr. Erwin is apparently a well-known entomologist. (I say "apparently" because this is not a field in which I am very conversant, and I know few, if any, of the people who specialize in this field of science.) In his research, Dr. Erwin reports that on the basis of his findings there are at least -- if not more -- 50,000 species of trees on this planet.
What also comes out in his writings is the fact that all of these species have common genetic origins -- nine, to be exact. Though Dr. Erwin does not get into this topic, it is possible to infer a common origin of those nine: one tree: The Tree of Life.
When I saw that, God's command to Adam and Eve , "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" suddenly took on a whole new dimension. You are likely seeing the picture already, but let me continue.
There were, of course, more than just two trees in the Garden; there were many. But here's the kicker. There were a total of ten genus of trees in the Garden. One of those genus of trees was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
God had said to Adam and Eve, "Don't touch that tree! That one's mine. I have reserved that one for myself. I will impart to you revelation knowledge as you have need of it. If you try to ingest the fruit of all the knowledge of good and evil at one time, it'll kill you. In the day you eat thereof you shall surely die. That tree is my portion in the Garden. You can eat anything and everything else, but don't touch this one. The tithe of the Garden is mine!"
OK, I've paraphrased things, but this really is the essence of what the Lord spoke to Adam. God wasn't being mean to Adam in telling him not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He was simply making it clear that human flesh was not designed to take in ALL the knowledge -- whether of good or evil -- at one time.
When knowledge is learned by man's efforts and academic pursuit, certain things are learned! But when man gains his knowledge and understanding through revelation of the Spirit of God, there is an entirely different dimension of understanding that comes with it.
Knowledge that comes through revelation from the Spirit of God comes in the midst of love, in the midst of grace, in the midst of peace. And it generates faith within the recipient.
Knowledge gained through man's efforts has an end in itself: death. The apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, notes that "in the last days perilous times shall come," and that men would be "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (II Timothy 3:1-7)
Because all the knowledge gained through human effort, striving and academic pursuit -- no matter how many years one spends at it -- never can lead to the truth, God purposely withheld the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from man. Knowledge separated from revelation and truth becomes facts. And facts are not necessarily truth, nor is any life inherent in them.
And just what was "the knowledge of the Truth"?
The truth was that all knowledge and wisdom is inherent in God Himself. It is inherent in His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact Jesus put it like this, "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6) Notice that He began the statement with "I AM." The "I AM" was the very same name He used with Moses. It was the very same name He used with Abraham. It was the same at Creation. The "I AM" spoke the world into existence. The "I AM" said, "Let there be light."
As long as the knowledge was dispensed through revelation from the " I AM" it produced life. And Adam and Eve were able, so long as they lived in the Garden, to eat of the Tree of Life -- and all the trees which sprang from it.
Once they chose to disobey and eat of God's portion, they ate death to themselves. Are you seeing the picture? The Tithe is a whole lot more than just money! Sure, money is a part of the picture, but it is only a small piece of it. The tithe is something God reserves for Himself. It encompasses His life, His authority, His power, His divinity, His very makeup and nature!
When folks eat of the tithe, they are eating death to themselves because they are touching that which is Holy. There's a picture of this -- although not necessarily within the framework or reference of tithing in Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira were land owners. During a time of great hardship and persecution of the Christians, many well-to-do Christians were giving of their substance and possessions to the apostles as gifts -- as seed, if you will -- to the Lord in order that those families who had been robbed or deprived of their holdings by the Romans and the Jewish leaders who opposed the Gospel would have their losses made up.
If someone sold a piece of land or property, they brought the entire proceeds of the sale to the apostles in a public demonstration that "This belongs to the Lord." Ananias and Sapphira sold one of their estates (the Greek word here is ktema: which means: estate) publicly declaring that the proceeds of this sale belonged to the Lord. Once they did so, the entire sum of money they received belonged to the Lord, and it was His portion.
Unfortunately they only brought a portion of the sale to the apostles and held back part of the sale money for themselves. They touched the Holy Portion. When Peter challenged Ananias (because the Holy Spirit had shown him Ananias' deception) Ananias dropped dead at his feet. Sapphira showed up later looking for her husband and Peter asked her if indeed the property had been sold for the sum that Ananias brought. She agreed with Ananias' lie and in so doing placed herself under the same death sentence. Upon her confession of a lie (and complicity in her husband's embezzlement of God's money) she likewise dropped dead.
Ananias and Sapphira suffered the same fate as Adam and Eve: in the same day that they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they died. You may look cockeyed at me for putting it like that, so let me explain.
After the sale of the property, human reasoning and thinking set in. The times were perilous to say the least. Christians everywhere were suffering persecution, and life had taken a very uncertain turn under Roman rule. The "knowledge of good" said, it would be a good thing to withhold a part of this money in order to take care of any unforeseen circumstances or events. Who knows what might happen. A little money for the rainy day would be a good thing.
The "knowledge of evil" invariably brings the fear of evil and that fear was saying, what happens if you need money in order to run or hide in case your community is exposed to the persecutors?
So Ananias and Sapphira bought it and ate it -- hook, line and sinker! And eating of the knowledge of good and evil cost them their lives.
Whenever people revert to using human reasoning and begin to depend on their knowledge of good or evil, they immediately transfer their citizenship from the Kingdom of God to the kingdoms of this world and Satan's dominion.
The Kingdom of God works on the principle of God's multiplication. There's just one thing, however. In order to take advantage of God's multiplication, one must honor Him, trust Him implicitly, and not lean on their own understanding -- no matter how rational or sensible that thinking may appear to be.
Far too many believers in Christ withhold God's portion because of knowledge of their own circumstances, situations or needs. They see that after taxes and insurance taken out of their paychecks they have $2,200 in bills, monthly payments and food costs, but they only have $2,300. If they take the tithe ($220) out and give it to the Lord, they won't have enough to even meet the bare necessities.
So they either don't pay tithes at all, or they write out a check for $100 and give it to their local church, and satisfy their consciences by saying to themselves, "I'll make up the rest later." Later never comes, and this becomes a repeated scenario. They go farther and farther into debt, they're unable to keep up with the needs that just increase, they get sick and wind up with doctor and hospital bills they can't even see the top of. And they wonder what went wrong.
What went wrong is they embezzled from God. The devourer has access to them because they are eating of the Holy Portion. The windows of Heaven are not open to them to take care of their financial needs because they are trusting in their own reasoning instead of God's promises.
One of the reasons that so many folks withhold their tithe from the Lord is that they just don't trust in the Lord. They don't trust His love for them. They don't trust His Word. They continue to profess their faith in the Lord but they live a lie when it comes to their finances.
I talked to a man once who said to me, "I tried that tithing stuff once and went deep in debt. It didn't work like you said." The real truth was that the Word of the Lord tried him and he failed.
Tithing isn't some routine commandment to keep: it is a lifestyle -- a Kingdom lifestyle. It isn't some commandment out of the Mosaic Law that went away with Jesus' death on the Cross and subsequent resurrection. It is a holy act of worship of the Lord. For those people who implicitly trust the Lord and worship Him with their tithe -- as Abraham did -- they will NEVER suffer need!
It is a law of the Kingdom. It is a fundamental of Kingdom Economics. It is an act of worship and honor of the Lord. It is agreement with the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His promise that when we seek first His Kingdom and the needs of His Kingdom here on earth, then "all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
Tithing is a deliberate decision to trust and believe the Word when the apostle Paul declares, "My God shall supply all your need, according to, out of, and in proportion to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus": (Philippians 4:19) -- not because and through and because of your endeavors as a common laborer, a office manager or bookkeeper, a doctor, or lawyer, a banker, an engineer, scientist or technician -- or whatever the daily occupation may be.
It matters not whether you earn $10 an hour or $1,000 an hour. Your needs are met by God. You don't work for a living -- not, at least, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ! You work for the Kingdom of God -- and God isn't a cheapskate when it comes to providing for His people -- so long as they first honor Him.
There's more of this revelation to share, and this is where we will pick up our discussion in the next Coffee Break.
Babylon is falling. It is coming down around us. Those who live their lives in the Kingdom of God, and according to God's economic principles will never suffer need!
The Blessing of the Lord: it makes rich and He adds no painful toil and sorrow! (Proverbs 10:22)
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