Sunday, June 17, 2001

Glen River Chapel

Tithing is Christian

 Bible Reading - Genesis 4:3,4

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

Here is the first act of bringing gifts to God.

We can see the following points from this passage:

Giving of gifts was tied to salvation - Hebrews 11:4 - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

God was not pleased with all the gifts of man. A man’s gift had to follow the pattern given by God.

Gifts must be accompanied by the right attitude.

Other men brought gifts to the Lord, notable sacrifices.

Noah offered unto the Lord -

Genesis 8:20.

Abraham likewise -

Genesis 12:7, 13:4.

In these days there was no temple to maintain, nor was there a priest who needed a salary for his earthly needs.

The gift was usually a lamb slain and consumed in the act of sacrifice.

As a result, the gifts that were given to God were the object of the moment.

The 1st occurrence of tithing came when Abraham met Melchizedek, the first mentioned priest of God.

A priest had a ministry to and for individuals. Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine. In return for his ministry, Abraham “gave him tithes of all”

(Genesis 14:20).

It is interesting that when the first priest of God appears in the Bible, tithes are collected to support him.

Also notice that the tithes were paid at a place that later would be connected with tithes. Melchizedek was king of Salem, a place we know today as Jerusalem.

The next occurrence of tithing comes when Jacob is at Bethel, which also was a place later approved for collective religious worship.

Jacob sees the ladder that reaches to heaven and names the place Bethel, or House of God.

Jacob realized that any wealth that he would accumulate would come from God and that a tenth belonged to Him -

Genesis 28:22 - And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Throughout the book of Genesis, God deals through the patriarchs. These were great men who led their families.

There was no house of God, nor priests to minister to the men of God.

There was no need for finances to sustain the ministry of God.

The patriarchs did not need offerings to support themselves. They made their living through cattle, crops and trading. Any gift to God was the animal that was sacrificed as an offering to God.

When the descendants of Abraham went into Egypt, there were only 70 of them (Gen. 46:27). While there, God multiplied them. Pharaoh made slaves of them and God’s people suffered. God raised up Moses to deliver them. After 9 great plagues, the time came for the final blow - Exodus 10:1-10,29. God’s people prepared themselves for the final plague in which the firstborn of both man and beast would be killed. As a result of this plague, Pharaoh thrust the people out into the Sinai wilderness.

Before the Israelites left Egypt, they were instructed to “borrow” gold, silver and jewels from the Eyptians - Exodus 11:1,2.

Next, they were to prepare for the Passover. They had until midnight to do all of this - Exodus 12:3-13.

The “borrowing” of jewels and raiment became the seed-plot for God’s people to make gifts:

to build the tabernacle

the sustain the ministry of the tabernacle

to support the priesthood.

There were 3 reasons why the “spoiling” of the Egyptians took place.

The prophecy of Genesis 15:14 had to be fulfilled - And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

They had worked as slaves for many years with no pay. God was catching up their wages.

The Lord was planning a sanctuary for Himself in the wilderness. The tabernacle would require gold, silver and fabric for its construction, furnishings and robes for attendants. Whatever was going to be needed had to be carried into the wilderness from Egypt.

God gave His people the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant at Mount Sinai. He also gave them the order of worship to be followed in the tabernacle after it was built - Exodus 20-24. Now the stage was set for the construction of the sanctuary.

God had providentially provided gold, silver and raiment for His house.

In the same way today, God gives men strength, wisdom and ability to work. From that employment comes wages. Then the Lord asks men to give back to God. God providentially prepares for man to make tithes and offerings.

Willing offering were requested - Exodus 25:1-8:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, 5And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, 6Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

Two things make fund-raising difficult:

Lack of resources (this wasn’t Israel’s problem).

Reluctance to give. (This was their test).

The gratitude of God’s people was such that no commandment was necessary.

No amount was mentioned. A person could give all or part.

For all the things needed, no one Israelite had all or even most of the items. This was to be a cooperative effort. Many could do what few could not.

Today, our churches are built by the same principle.

A proposed sanctuary is mentioned - Exodus 25:8-9:

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

Now the Lord reveals the reason for the offerings. A huge tent would be constructed and positioned in the center of the camp.

God would dwell in that tent in a special way and meet with His people.

A detailed description of its construction is given in Exodus 25-27.

God had the tabernacle built to a pre-planned pattern. God was its architect.

Later, Aaron and his sons were set aside to serve as priests.

Talented men were recruited - Exodus 36:1-3.

And generous offerings were restrained - Exodus 36:4-7:

And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; 5And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. 6And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. 7For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

Construction on the tabernacle began 6 months after the exodus from Egypt. And it took six months to finish.

Some lessons we learn from this, so far are:

Bondage destroys life.

God never asks for contributions but what He first supplies resources.

The 1st project on God’s priority list for His people’s welfare is an assembly house.

God wants His people to give willingly toward support of His work.

Giving involves more than just money or material things. (Time and talent).

Giving to God goes back to the beginning of time. Giving to God then is like it is today, in that, God wants our life first, then the product of our hands. But He never asks us to give what he doesn’t first provide.

Although lots of organizations ask for money, and many of these may be good, God has only one place in both Old and New Testament to give money.

The belief and practice of storehouse tithing has been rejected by many today. Those who teach it and preach it have been accused of legalism and other things.

The doctrine of tithing means a believer gives one-tenth of his income to the Lord.

Many do not agree with this practice.

The doctrine of “storehouse tithing” means the tithe is given to the local church.

This is God’s common-sense way of growth. Every man gives according to his ability and together enough money is raised to carry on the ministry.

The principle of “God’s place” is introduced in Deuteronomy 12:1-32.

Throughout the OT, God had a place for:

Celebrating the symbols of redemption, the sacrificial offerings

A central assembly where God met with the people

A location where tithes and offerings were given.

This principle continues in the New Testament. The Church is God’s place for:

Celebrating the symbols of redemption, baptism and the Lord’s table

The central place where Christians assemble (church means “assembly”)

The place where the people bring their tithes and offerings.

The Importance of a special place -

Deuternomy 12:5-14:

But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: 6And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: 7And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee. 8Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. 9For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. 10But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; 11Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD: 12And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. 13Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: 14But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

God made it clear that 3 things were tied to a special place of worship.

The place for celebrating the symbols of redemption. He couldn’t make his sacrifice just anywhere (as the heathen). This would have been the same as a man determining how and where he would serve God, which is man-made religion.

The sacrifices were symbols. Symbols of the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world.

Today we do not observe the symbols of killing animals to picture redemption.

Our symbols are baptism and the Lord’s table. Both are pictures of Christ’s sacrifice. We call these “ordinances”. They belong to the church.

The place for the people to assemble with God.

The Israelite was commanded to come to God’s place - Dt. 12:5.

God promised to meet with people at specific places. Not at every location.

The church is an assembly of “called out ones”.

Under both law and grace God saw a need for central assembly.

There we find mutual fellowship, support and strength.

The authority of the OT place was the presence of the Lord - Ex. 40:34.

The church also has the unique presence of Christ. The church is called a candlestick in Revelation 1. When that church fell into sin, it was in danger of losing “its candlestick out of its place”. (Rev. 2:5).

Christ’s presence in the church is its authority. He indwells believers (Gal. 2:20) and the church is gathered to carry out His commission. Therefore we bring our tithes and offerings to the place (church) where God meets with His people.

The church is assembly of believers, in whom Christ dwells, which exists under the authority of the word of God, organized for evangelism, teaching, fellowship, worship and to exercise the ordinances.

God calls men to give leadership to this ministry. Money is needed to support their needs and pay for the expenses incurred in their ministry.

God commanded His people to bring the tithes to “His place” in the OT. We should continue His pattern in the NT.

God gave careful warning about men deciding where to worship God, when to sacrifice and what to offer. The principle carries over into the NT. God’s plan is to assemble on the Lord’s Day (I Cor. 16:2), to study the Word of God (Acts 2:42), pray (Vs. 42) and celebrate the ordinances (Acts 2:41,46).

The place of offerings.

God designated a special place. He also designated that offerings be brought to that place - Dt. 12:11.

People were told not to eat their tithe corn at home - Dt. 12:17.

They were commanded to bring their tithes and offerings:

to worship God

to support the Levites

to provide maintenance of God’s house

to prosper individually - Dt. 12:22.

In the OT, the Israelite payed his tithe at the tabernacle and later at the temple.

This was one of the conditions of the law, in order to remain in fellowship with God. Under grace, some want to throw out the tithe. They have missed God’s plan to carry out His work.

However, a Christian cannot give money to get in fellowship with God.

Christians give because they are saved and been made partakers of His grace.

We give tithes and offerings because we are God’s children.

The tithing of harvests and herds was the last subject covered in the book of Leviticus. Lev. 27:30-34. One tenth of crops and animals were given to the Lord.

Numbers 18:24-32 explains that the Israelites were to give their tithes to the Levites, and then the Levites were to take a tithe of these offerings and give this to the priests. Since their was more Levites than priests, this provided the priests with enough to meet their needs.

Tithing for the Levites is similar to our giving tithes in the church today.

The ministers receive a salary from the tithes and offerings.

He is to live from the gifts of God’s people because he is set aside to do God’s work.

Now a look at the storehouse.

The Mosaic law remained in effect for 15 centuries from Moses to the cross.

Often the Jews ignored it, defied it or covered it beneath man-made traditions.

When their spiritual life was low, their giving fell off. When they were spiritually renewed, their giving rose again.

Over and over God sent prophets to call people back to God and obey His law. Captivity cured the Jews of idolatry, but some of their other sins returned afterward.

Malachi was a post-exile prophet. He indicated that the people were backslidden in

 Malachi 3:7 - Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

Malachi is leading up to a rebuke for not contributing their resources to God. He accused them of living the same way their fathers did prior to the Babylonian captivity.

God gave them an offer of reconciliation and renewed fellowship. Their disobedience however, had led to insensitivity toward the Lord. God had to spell the sin out for them. Malachi 3:8 - Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings

How did they rob God? By keeping back that which rightfully belonged to Him.

Then God pronounces a curse on the nation in Malachi 3:9.

When King Hezekiah led a spiritual reform for the nation, one of the things he did was to re-institute the priesthood and the tithe. As the people responded to his instructions, the contributions began to pile up in heaps in the temple courtyard.

II Chronicles 31:9-12 - Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.

11Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, 12And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.

This storehouse was built to hold the contributions. It was from this that the priest and Levite were given supplies.

So, when a person brought offerings to the Temple, he was storehouse tithing.

Malachi 3:10 - Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

And even though there is the promise of blessing, a Christian should not give with the prospect of getting a financial return on his investment. We should give with no thought of return. We give because we love God. Those with a selfish motive will probably not get it.

God also promises divine protection in

Malachi 3:11-12 - And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. 12And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

God is not destitute if we fail to give to Him. But we are spiritually desititute if we have no desire to give to Him.

The church cannot survive and prosper unless we support it as we should.

How to give money to God

Jesus warned about not laying up treasures on the earth, but rather in heaven. Tithing is an investment. An investment in the work of heaven.

Give from your heart. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. We cannot grow spiritually because we give, but when we grow, giving will result. Today, money is life. We are giving part of our life when we give to God.

We give by faith. We give believing God will provide our needs when we are faithful to Him.

Give to God and not men. Though the money given may end up paying the salary of a man of God, we do not give with him in mind, but rather the Lord.

The main goal of giving should be to carry out God’s work in the world.

Giving should make us happy. The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.

Some last things about tithing.

Tithing began with a Gentile.

Tithing originated before the age of the law.

The early church gave more than a tithe.

The principle of “God’s place” requires storehouse tithing.

Tithing helps the church carry out God’s commission