Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tithing


In Genesis 4 we are told the story of Cain. Cain has an attitude problem, it is an attitude problem that exists throughout the history of God revealing Himself to His people. Cain has a desire to have relationship with God, however, he wants to base the relationship on terms and conditions he feels are appropriate. This is contrary to the teaching of God directly to Adam, the teaching of Adam to his children, and the subsequent modelling of the proper attitude by Abel.
Genesis 4:6-7 So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
The Hebrew word picture of sin lying at the door is richly indicative of the New Testament offering of Jesus and the love of God in not only desiring relationship through sacrifice but willingly procuring and/or supplying that sacrifice.

The other word picture is one of lion waiting at the door to fulfill its desire to devour, consume or waste life's efforts.
In either instance the underlying significance is in the stated position of God allowing for the opportunity for a change of attitude by Cain, seemingly at this time without further consequence.
This attitude of Cain's is very similar to the attitude of the people of God at the other end of the Old Testament in Malachi.
Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.
There are two reasons why the people of God are called to tithe.
One reason is the practical, it provided provisionally for the Levites, the Priests, the Temple and the poor.
The second reason is spiritual, it was the basis for the establishment of relationship with God as a theocratic institution, it was to celebrate God's goodness, and it was to acknowledge the ownership and authority of a sovereign God.
It is a foundational principal of consecration and sanctification, the removal of dross, the promotion of faith and the calling of a people to a life of serving a living God.
Those who were profoundly influenced by this thought, are scattered throughout the Old Testament. There by-word is 'kenosis', the 'emptying of oneself'. It comes with the recognition that we are little more than renters on this Earth and that all things come by the hand-of-God.
Jesus in His intersection into the life-of-man begins to instruct through observation and example of this principle both in His life and in the lives of those around Him. The first example is the calling of the disciples, they 'left' their nets, their homes, their families to follow Jesus. There is in this the 'transferring of ownership', more appropriately the recognition of Lordship, if I may say the true Theocratic institution manifested, the Kingdom of God revealed not in the strict and legalstic observance of the Law, but in the intent of the heart in light of the abject poverty of man to procure an acceptable offering or attitude either desirable or satisfactory to God.
This is not a new concept to the people of God;
Abraham left Ur without destination, solely upon a promise, and for this his faith was counted to him as righteousness;
Moses left Egypt with all its riches never to arrive at the Promised Land;
Jesus took a walk up a hill...
Phil 2:8 "...and being in the appearance as man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross."
As we further investigate the attitude problem with respect to tithing we come across Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of breathe mints and table salt and bottled water, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." There is an absence of 'kenosis' for they are unable, blind or unwilling to recognize their impoverished position in adequately meeting the requirements of the law, so in that absence they provided what they were able and built their religion upon their estimation of a satisfactory attitude and offering, esteeming the tithe, as that is what is available, as a recompense for sin rather than the recognition of their abject poverty and the need for 'kenosis; in this Jesus calls them hypocrites, they exchange the filth of money, believing it to be compensatory for the blessings of a living God who provides all, and only desires our heart, continually, constantly proving to His people that His love, His care, His provision is worthy of that gift.

2 comments:

russkellyphd said...

The tithe] provided provisionally for the Levites, the Priests, the Temple and the poor.
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Comment:
(1) Yes and they totaled 23%. Do you teach 23%?
(2) And the Levites got the first whole tithe. The Levites were the carpenters, leather-workers, artisans, guards, choir, musicians, bakers, treasurers and politicians (Num 3; 1 Chron 23 to 26). Do you give your “tithe” to these?
(3) Although money was very common in the Pentateuch and essential for worship it was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Do you teach that the true tithe is only food increased by God’s miracle from inside Israel?
....................................
The second reason is spiritual, it was the basis for the establishment of relationship with God as a theocratic institution, it was to celebrate God's goodness, and it was to acknowledge the ownership and authority of a sovereign God.
It is a foundational principal of consecration and sanctification, the removal of dross, the promotion of faith and the calling of a people to a life of serving a living God.
.....................................
Comment: Where is this in God’s Word? The tithe was a commanded mandatory law which did not involve faith. And those who received the tithe were not allowed to own or inherit property. Do you teach that?

Anonymous said...

This man is making a distinction between grace and law. For many people, they lose the idea that there is grace in the law. Therefore they will push to get rid of anything that looks like it is law. I could probably take the time to dispute a number of his thoughts. But, in the end, I still think there is a continuity between the Old and New Testament. As you were trying to portray on Sunday, the tithe is a starting point. This is a challenge to us! The commenter says this is not by faith. Give me a break!! Of course it's by faith. You can be told to do something, but if we look at our own lives we see that often the only way we can fulfill what God wants us to do is to live by faith. We don't have the resources unless God is the one who gives the abundance. And as to not owning property if you get the tithe -- what about the builders of the temple (craftsmen) who got the money (tithe) to (re)build the temple. I'll bet they owned homes!! It was the priests who didn't own the homes or property -- and some churches still provide manses Anonymous