Last week I spoke about digging up our stopped-up wells so that the spiritual life in Messiah can flow through us more freely. We spoke of some of the “stones, dirt, and garbage” which can clog up our wells. It had been my intention to speak today on another subject related to God’s purposes for us here in Beer Sheva, but during the week the Holy Spirit convicted me of another stone in both my life and in the congregation’s, which is limiting God in blessing us here as He would want. It is a subject which is seen from the first pages of history down to these last days, as written for our instruction in the Bible.
The Lord does not change: He wants His people to give from their incomes and increases in order for Him to bless us. From Cain and Abel (Gen 4:4) to Abraham and Melchizedek (Gen 14:20) to Jacob (Gen 28:20-22) to the people of Israel under the whole Tenach (the O.T.: Lev 27:30-32; Num 18:21-24; Dt 12:17-19; 14:22,28-29; 24:19-22; Pr 3:9; Mal 3:8), the believers who feared YHVH understood that all that they had belonged to God, and that they “owed” Him at least 10% (a tithe).
Under the Law the LORD told Israel through Moses that 10% belonged to YHVH, and was holy to Him. He instructed the children of Israel to give this 10% for Him to the Levites, who served Him as priests in the Tabernacle/Temple. (Num 18:23-24) This corresponds to deacons and elders within local Messianic/Christian congregations. The Levites were to give from this tithe their own tithe as an offering to YHVH, who was their inheritance, rather than a land possession with the other children of Israel.
The tithes and offerings are God’s “taxes” upon the citizens of His Kingdom to help service the general welfare which His government provided (similar to Mt 22:15-22; Rom 13:1-7): firstly, to pay the priests their “salaries”, who as a tribe worked every day of the year, while the rest of the tribes only worked 80% of the year, not having to work on Sabbaths and holidays. (Lev 27:30-32; Num 18:21; 1Tim 5:17-18) This corresponds to elders who teach, and to other servants who serve regularly and faithfully the local churches on Sabbaths and Sundays.; secondly, to pay for the upkeep of the Tabernacle/Temple, and for feast days (Dt 12:17-19); thirdly, to care for the poor and the stranger, the widows and fatherless. (Dt 14:28-29) The first amounted to the “whole tithe”, or 10%; the second and the third raised the total offering to 16%-17%. The blessing which YHVH promised was based upon these extra donations, which were voluntary. The tithe was obligatory, a necessary duty upon all.
Mal 3:7-12 We rob God! Instead of stealing from Him by not paying our tithes, He wants to give us at least 80%-90% of what is already His. YHVH is saying to give Him even the minimum of 10%, and He will give us more than enough. This is grace; He is asking from us the minimum under the Law, and He will bless us, although the Law does not require Him to!
Give to the Lord, and He will bless in such a way that unbelievers will notice.
Give to God what is rightfully His, and He will increase our income to enable us to bless and help others, to His glory.
Tithing also provides a defense against greed and stinginess.
So much for the O.T., but what about the New Testament? Aren’t we under grace now and not the Law?
Mt 23:23-24 justice, mercy, and faith + tithing
Lk 11:42 justice and the love of God + tithing
So speaks our Lord Jesus.
If you read 2Cor 8 – 9, Paul instructs Christians regarding giving. His teaching is based upon the words of the Lord Yeshua, who upholding the principles and commandments of the Word of God as written in the O.T. in this matter, just as He is concerning the promises made to the Fathers connected with the people and the land of Israel. The apostle in particular praises those who gave more than his own expectation, despite their poverty and affliction, and says that they gave firstly unto the Lord and then to them by the will of God. (2Cor 8:1-5)
Many of us are having financial troubles. Could it be that we are robbing God? Many of us have not had a ‘new song’ in a long time. Could it be that we are robbing God and rejecting His interests in the congregation?
Mal 3:13-18 God makes a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve Him and those who do not; the Book of Remembrance is for those who fear YHVH and think of Him.
2Cor 9:6-15 God will bless the whole-hearted giver, and many will give thanks to God.
May the Lord increase our faith to give more than mere duty – but at least our duty! – and unclog our wells. Spring up, O well! (Num 21:17)