The Doctrine of Giving - Part I
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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 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. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.” —Malachi 3:8-12
When it comes to the subject of giving, most Christians do not truly understand its scriptural significance, neither do they grasp just how important it is. Granted, many believers have been duped by so-called preachers, and, as a result, have become cynical, jaded, and skeptical of any preacher who takes up an offering. Others have not been taught the benefits of giving to the work of God, and therefore fail to take advantage of what the Bible teaches.
I hope and pray that you, dear reader, would not meet this truth with skepticism, but rather with an open heart, truly asking the Lord for His understanding regarding our giving. God could have chosen many and varied ways to support His work and to bless His people, but He chose the format of giving, and that includes tithes and offerings. Tithing was formulated by God as the means to finance His work, and it gives Him the opportunity to bless those who give (II Cor. 9:6-7).
*Tithing Under Abel *
I want to take this moment to look at what the Word of God says about giving, for the Bible must be the criteria for everything that we do. The Word of God has the answer for every one of life’s questions, no matter how small or great the question may be, the Word of God alone holds the key to what you need.
Many would say that tithing is not under the new covenant. However, if the truth were to be known, tithing is and has been a part of every covenant that God has made with man. Let’s take a look at tithing before the law. To do this, we must first look at Genesis 4:4: “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.”
The word firstling refers to the firstborn of the flock that was to be offered in sacrifice, which is what the Lord instructed Abel to do. This was done by God to establish the principle that every firstborn male belonged to God (Ex. 13:2-15). By doing this, God exercised His right of ownership, not by killing, but by giving life, for when the firstborn clean animal was offered to God, the firstborn son was redeemed. You may ask, What does this have to do with tithing? With Abel’s instruction to use the firstborn of his flock as a sacrifice, it pictured Christ as well as tithing. God gave his best that we might be redeemed, and we should in turn give God our best to receive his blessings. As the Scripture proclaims, we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
Tithing Under Abraham
Here, we find the very first mention of the word tithe in Scripture, and it’s found in Genesis 14:17-20:
“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”
We find in this text that Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek, who was a priest and king, and therefore, a type of Christ. We really do not know who Melchizedek was. Some say that he was actually Shem, who was one of the sons of Noah, but we just do not know. He appears unexpectedly after the destruction of the kings, which means that he was actually hidden to everyone up until this point, but appears in blessing.
In this meeting, we see that Melchizedek brings Abraham bread and wine, which is symbolic of the crucifixion of Christ, for it was at the Last Supper that the true Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine, which symbolized His broken body and His poured out blood. As well, we see that Melchizedek blessed Abraham, which Paul says, “and without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better” (Heb. 7:7).
He, Melchizedek, stood in a higher position than Abraham because he was raised up by God to be a type of Christ as a king and priest.
Now, we must ask this question: where did Abraham learn about paying tithes? We’re not for sure, but it could have been that the Lord Himself revealed this truth to Abraham, or it could have been passed down from generation to generation, starting with Abel, and then subsequently passed down to others who lived for God at that time. Either way, it really doesn’t matter how it was revealed to the Patriarch; the most important thing is that it was implemented.
Abraham paying tithe to Melchizedek set the standard for the implementation of tithing, and was meant to be continued to this very hour. This is of extreme importance because it was to Abraham that God would give the meaning of justification by faith, or what we now know as the Abrahamic government, which is God’s method of regeneration.
We are justified by faith in the sight of God, through the finished work of Christ, and insomuch that we are children of Abraham—all by faith—we pay tithe to those who are called of God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. This must not be overlooked, but the fact is that most Christians do not support the work of God at all, and seeing that we are children of Abraham by way of the doctrine of justification by faith, we should follow in the path of Abraham and support those who are doing what God has called them to do.
Tithing Under Jacob
Next, we come to tithing under Jacob. Once again, this is coming from the Word of God (Gen. 28:15-22), and that predates the law. We find Jacob alone, with a rock for a pillow, and yet God would give Jacob a dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending from that ladder, which is Christ. However, it must be established that God Himself descended this ladder from heaven and stood beside Jacob.
Here God expressed a promise of tremendous proportions to Jacob: as He was with his father and grandfather, so would He be with Jacob. What a promise! It was at this time that Jacob vowed a vow unto the Lord—the very first recorded vow outlined in Scripture. The path of faith is now opened to Jacob, and he expresses his intention of giving a tenth of all of his wealth to God.
Now, there are a couple of questions that must be asked: First, who would Jacob pay tithe to? Second, a tenth of what? I’ll address these questions and much more on the topic of tithing in next month’s issue of The Evangelist.
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