Questions & Answers
First posted: November 22, 2010
A visitor recently sent us an email where he indicated that he had read our postings on tithing and was disappointed that we had not declared tithing a part of the deprecated Old-Testament past. Even though the visitor's email was somewhat long, it can basically be summarised in the question,
"Why, if the Mosaic Law has been abolished, do you and others refuse to declare tithing as a practice of the past? Why are you and others unwilling to remove Old-Testament burdens such as this one that only complicate the faith, especially when the issue of giving is made so free and simple in the New Testament?"
Before we can share some comments that may help the asking visitor to understand the issue of tithing better, it is important to clear up 3 errors in what he shared in his email. We will be rather blunt and "undiplomatic" with the answer below because we know, from experience, that errors such as the ones in the visitor's thinking cannot be dealt with without confronting some rather hardened paradigms entrenched deep within the soul. Diplomatic answers are rather useless when dealing with these errors. If all the content that we have already posted on the website has done little to shake the thinking of believers such as the one asking this question, a soft answer will be an utter waste of time. We must also make it clear, dear believer, that we are in no way interested in getting into a protracted discussion of this issue. Fellow believer, if the lengthy and nuanced explanation below is not enough to satisfy you, so be it. Let God be the judge of your stubbornness. This writer does not want to dignify this stubborn generation by spending time toiling on the issues on their agenda rather than God's.
Before proceeding, this writer feels compelled to share his personal view on having to answer questions such as this one. Were I still believing that this generation would see the latter-rain Glory of God, I sincerely wonder if the Lord would allow us to invest such significant amount of time on questions such as this one, questions that deal with spiritual "legal technicalities" rather than subject matter that truly advances God's latter-day agenda on Earth. However, as the Lord has made very evident to us in recent weeks, this generation shall not see the glory of God, and God's divorce with this generation and its calling has been finalised. This means that there is absolutely no point in me making decisions and sacrifices consistent with the idea of seeing this generation fulfil its purposes, for that would be equivalent to placing money on a horse that has already been disqualified from the race. Under such circumstances, I now understand that the remaining months of public ministry left in this writer shall be used to deal mostly with trifle minutiae, with detailed discussions of basic issues, as when a secondary school physics teacher must give up on his dream of teaching physics per se and must spend the rest of the semester going over fraction arithmetic, solutions of simple algebraic equations, and Cartesian coordinates because those fundamental issues were making teaching physics all but impossible. Obviously, these words do not apply to all of you who visit this website, but, as some of you may have experienced at some point in your academic life, nothing holds you back like being in a classroom full of classmates unable or unwilling to "keep up with the programme". In a sense, therefore, we all get punished when the majority are unwilling to cooperate. Some might say, "Why don't we just kick out all the ones holding us back?", but, to those who would say that, God would reply,
"You have missed the whole point of this class, and you have yet to understand why I gathered you together to teach you. If all I wanted was to tutor you and fill you with spiritual information, I could have done that in private without a need to gather you together. If you are asking such a question, you have yet to understand My purpose behind this class, which proves that you are part of the group holding the class back, in which case I would have to kick you out of the class as well."
First, the visitor argues that Paul considered the law "abolished". However, that is not true. Remember that Yeshua declared that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it.
"17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)
In other words, He came to give the Law its true and eternal meaning. If the visitor were right in stating that Paul "abolished" the law, we would have to believe that Yeshua misspoke when He said that He had not come to "destroy" the law. I hope the visitor does not mind me trusting Yeshua's words more than his, especially when his words are a claim about what Scripture teaches; in other words, regardless of whether a person may or may not want to believe what Scripture says, we must be clear about what Scripture actually said. The veracity of Scripture may be a matter of debate, but what Scripture actually says is not. I hope, therefore, that the visitor and others who share his belief will be willing to trust Yeshua's words more than their own with regard to the issue of the law being "abolished", and I also hope that they will be willing to shape their understanding around His words, instead of trying to shape His words around their current understanding.
Second, the visitor says that tithing was an element derived from the Mosaic Law. Again, this contradicts Scripture, because the concept of tithing is introduced in Scripture centuries and centuries before Moses ever showed up. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), and, even though that event is narrated in what the Church stupidly calls the "Old Testament", it is not an event that happened under the parameters of the Old Covenant, at least as defined by God in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Abraham did not tithe to Melchizedek because Moses had told him to. Moses was still in Abraham's loins at the time! When Scripture speaks of Jacob offering a tithe of all to God (Genesis 28:22), Moses was once again notoriously absent. Therefore, if believers such as the asking visitor hope to ever understand tithing from God's perspective, they must pluck out of their heads the false and stubborn notion (promoted by religious thinking) that tithing is a spiritual element that owes its existence to the Mosaic Law. If you read through Hebrews 7, you will see that Scripture clearly associates tithing to the Melchizedek priesthood, not to the Levitical priesthood, meaning that tithing is ultimately a New-Covenant concept, given that the Melchizedek priesthood correlates with the New Covenant:
"1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him." (Hebrews 7:1-10)
"21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peopleís: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore." (Hebrews 7:21-28)
[The word "testament" in v22 was translated from the Greek word diatheke, which is better translated "covenant" and is the original word in Greek whenever the word "covenant" appears in the New Testament]
In light of this Scriptural evidence, I hope believers such as the asking visitor will have the courage to admit that tithing is not derived from the Mosaic Law. I say this because the traditional evangelical has a hard time admitting his or her doctrinal errors, even when confronted with overwhelming Scriptural evidence.
The third error in the visitor's thinking is a much more subtle error, and it is the error that will be the most difficult to correct in his understanding of things. Immersed in the line of thinking expressed by the visitor's email is a belief that he and the vast majority of believers have fallen prey to: a faith in the schizophrenic paradigm promoted by religious tradition that divides God into two Gods, the "nasty" and "ruthless" God of the "Old Testament" and the "lovey-dovey", "let's-give-peace-a-chance" God of the "New Testament". The Church has conveniently done this to make Christianity more palatable to the rebellious human soul. As the Church has done this, it has stamped everything in the first 39 books of Scripture with the label "NULL AND VOID", but it hypocritically extracts all the "nice and pleasant" parts in it whenever it is convenient for its soul. The Church can boldly proclaim Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 as applying to us, whilst at the same time considering passages such as Psalm 35:4-6 as not befitting of our more "modern" and "civilised" times. The Church can boldly quote Isaiah 40:30-31 whenever it is in times of tribulation, whilst at the same time claiming that Isaiah 63:3-6 is much too "uncouth", much too "insensitive" to apply to our "kinder", "gentler", "New-Testament" times. The more prophetically inclined in the Church can boldly quote Ezekiel 47:1-10 as auspices that "good times of blessings" are ahead, but it quickly glosses over Ezekiel 9:3-8, declaring it a "dark" and "cryptic" passage that simply has no relevance for our more "refined" age. The Church can confidently quote Joshua 1:3-6 whenever it needs to gather "emotional courage", whilst at the same time ignoring the verses that immediately follow (v7-8), treating them as if they do not apply to us because we are living in more "liberal" times.
To summarise, these are the visitor's 3 foundational errors:
Now, let us try to reshape the distorted understanding on tithing in believers such as the asking visitor, bearing these 3 errors in mind.
If the Law was not abolished, what happened to it? As we said above, Yeshua declares that the Law was actually "fulfilled", meaning that it was given the depth of meaning that it lacked in the past. Instead of being annulled, the Law was elevated to a higher standard, a standard more difficult to reach than before. As Yeshua declares in Matthew 5, people in the past could declare that they were abiding by the 6th commandment, for example, if they had not literally murdered anyone; now, whoever belittles his neighbour, calling him inherently inferior and worthless (i.e.- "Raca"), has broken the 6th commandment, even if he or she has not laid a physical hand on that neighbour (Matthew 5:21-22). This applies to each and every single commandment in the Mosaic Law. Mind you, the Holy Spirit is very explicit in stating that rules pertaining to food, for example, did not need to be followed in the literal, Girgashite sense of the word (Acts 15:19-21). Literal rituals that were tied in directly to the Levitical priesthood are not to be followed anymore because we are now operating in the priesthood of Melchizedek, which elevates all these rituals to a higher level. In other words, we are still to carry out these rituals, but they are to be carried out in a spiritual sense that is much more difficult to follow.
On the other hand, rules that had a very clear and specific historical and cultural context are not to be followed anymore, but that does not mean that we are not to abide by the spiritual principle that they were a shadow of. God set all these rituals and rules in place as figures in the literal of principles we were to live by in the Spirit realm. For example, the prohibition of eating pork is no longer applicable in the literal sense, but we are now to abide by the spiritual principle it represents. As we have shared before, pigs are a figure of the Girgashite spirit. On the other hand, the act of "eating" is a figure in Scripture of absorbing something or someone else's nature and making it a part of you (this is what Yeshua meant when He said, "Eat My flesh and drink My blood"). Therefore, to "eat pork" means to accept and absorb Girgashite attitudes of earthliness that turn us into spiritual pigs in God's eyes. The literal avoidance of pork in the past was a figure of how we are to walk in the Spirit realm, avoiding any thought patterns or attitudes that are tainted with the Girgashite spirit, abhorring them the way the ancient Jews abhorred the mere sight of pork. Even though we are not to make animal sacrifices anymore, each of the sacrifices depicted under the Law depict the type of spiritual sacrifices and cleansings that we are to undergo in order to be redeemed from specific types of unrighteousness. It is possible that your dogmatic, religious upbringing may be quick to say, "Isn't Christ's sacrifice enough? Why do we need other spiritual sacrifices?" However, we are not talking about the sacrifice required to save us from hell. We are talking about the sacrifice that we must make (i.e.- the "surrenders" we must make) in order to be forged into the full righteousness of God. Consider, for example, a drug addict who accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour but who then turned around and fell back to his addiction. Is he automatically hell-bound because he relapsed? Of course not! But, is he magically restored by a wave of a magic wand as you claim the blood of Christ over him? Of course not! That person fell back to his addiction because of issues in his heart that must be dealt with; there are things that that person must surrender in his heart, and there is a cleansing process that that person must go through in order to be free of his spiritual disease. The fact that he said the "prayer of salvation" at one point in his life does not mean that there are no more "surrenders" or "cleansings" he must ever go through again. Just as there was a ritual for cleansing leprosy in the past, for example, there are "rituals" to cleanse specific types of sins. Each of these rituals was carried out in a literal sense under the Old Covenant, but they are a figure of spiritual processes we must go through to cleanse various types of sins. These "rituals" are all to be carried out in the context of Christ's sacrifice and redemption, but the Lord's sacrifice does not take away from our responsibility to grow into the fullness of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13, Philippians 2:12). The matriarchal Church is totally oblivious to all these spiritual "rituals" and processes. Why? Because it has stupidly dismissed all the rituals detailed in the so-called "Old Testament", declaring them archaic and irrelevant for our more "progressive" times, which has left all the spiritual principles behind these "rituals" untapped and ignored.
Having said all of the above, it must be emphasised that not all the laws in the so-called "Old Testament" lost their literal meaning. For example, even though we can now eat literal pork (but not the spiritual one), this does not give us a licence to commit literal murder. In other words, the commandment "You shall not murder" is to be followed both literally and figuratively. Why? Because the commandment against literal murder clearly transcends the Levitical priesthood and any cultural or historical context. God clearly spoke out against murder from the very beginning, as when He judged Cain for having murdered his brother Abel. There were no "Levitical priests" walking around during Cain's days, and both Moses and Levi were a mere "thought" in God's mind at that time, yet that did not prevent God declaring Cain guilty of sin. Eating pork, on the other hand, is clearly trapped in a historical and cultural context. God knew that sanitary conditions in those days made it very precarious to eat the meat of an animal as dirty as a pig. Besides, the Jewish people at that time were a small nation surrounded by enemy nations that were permeated with Girgashite contamination in the spiritual sense. Therefore, it was important for the Jewish people to "distinguish" themselves from the rest of the nations through symbolic actions that announced their abhorrence of the spiritual uncleanness that surrounded them. This is why God wanted them to perform acts such as abstinence from pork that would act as a daily cultural reminder to every Israelite that they were a chosen people, a people separate from all the others, sanctified unto a higher calling. In that sense, the Jewish people were living out the spiritual principle declared by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. Since all the nations around them were so overtly carrying out literal rituals in honour of false gods, they were to also carry out literal rituals that declared their abhorrence of those false gods. Since the nations around them indulged in pork as a symbol of their willingness to immerse themselves in spiritual uncleanness, the Jewish people were to abstain from pork as a sign that would challenge the conscience of the surrounding nations.
"23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man anotherís wealth. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lordís, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lordís, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another manís conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." (1 Corinthians 10:23-33)
Scripture is very clear in pointing out the parameters needed to understand whether a specific rule from the Mosaic Law is to be followed literally or not. This is why the Holy Spirit invests so much time writing about issues of food and drink and the Sabbath, for example. It is from passages such as Acts 10, Acts 15, Colossians 2, and 1 Corinthians 8-10 that we can clearly understand that issues of food and drink are trapped in a historical and cultural context. The issue of head covering for women, for example, is also portrayed as a rule trapped in a historical and cultural context, as clearly defined by 1 Corinthians 11:16, where Paul declares, "If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom", as if to say, "In the cultural context and traditions we are surrounded by, women not wearing head covering has a connotation that is contrary to the spiritual message that we should be projecting to others". In other words, the need for women to cover their heads was required because of what it did in the conscience of others, thereby emphasising what Paul wrote at the end of 1 Corinthians 10 (quoted above). The act of women covering their heads was also to reflect what women understood that covering to represent. In Brazil, for example, the so-called "fig gesture" with your hand can be interpreted as a "good luck wish". If you go to Russia, however, and make the same gesture, you can expect a nice beating, or at least a nice "shouting down", depending on the neighbourhood you are in. Physical acts are like a language that is contingent on the cultural context. If you are in Western Europe and walk into a house with your hat on, it will probably be seen as a sign of disrespect. If you know that and still keep your hat on, you are proactively declaring your lack of respect for the house. By the same token, if a woman in Paul's days did not cover her head (whilst knowing what that stood for to the people around her), she would effectively be birthing rebellion in her heart.
Given that Scripture is very clear in pointing out what rules can be taken as "historical and cultural" in nature, we must now consider whether tithing falls under the category of "historical" or "cultural". As we said above, the second error in the visitor's thinking was that tithing derives its raison d'Ítre from the Mosaic Law. However, Scripture is very clear in separating tithing from the Mosaic Law and the Levitical priesthood. Instead of lumping tithing along with pork-eating, the literal Sabbath, and other rules, the Holy Spirit deliberately spends time in the so-called "New Testament" pointing out how tithing is a practice whose roots are actually in the Melchizedek priesthood, not the Levitical priesthood, as shown by Hebrews 7:1-10. Said another way, the Holy Spirit makes no effort to "discredit" tithing the way He does with the ban on eating (literal) pork or the keeping of the literal Sabbath. Instead, He legitimises it by associating it with the New-Covenant priesthood, a priesthood that is "here to stay" (Hebrews 7:24). To the chagrin of the matriarchal Church, God is a God of laws and principles (He has always been and will always be, and cursed are those who dare to "change" Him). Therefore, we can safely assume that a law decreed by God will remain valid until He explicitly nullifies it and/or replaces it with another. He explicitly voided the ban on eating pork, for example (Acts 10:15), yet He did no such thing with tithing.
A stubborn soul may argue that He nullified tithing when He, in a sense, "annulled" literal compliance with the Mosaic Law. However, such thinking is based on the erroneous belief that the Mosaic Law was nullified rather than perfected (error #1 above). And, even if we were willing to accept the annulment of the Mosaic Law, the thought that that would annul the act of tithing would be based on the erroneous belief that tithing owes its existence to the Mosaic Law (error #2 above). Since tithing (both literal and figurative) is not inherently part of the Mosaic Law, whatever may or may not have happened to the Mosaic Law does not affect tithing. Thus, unless you can find a verse that explicitly annuls tithing, you cannot relegate it to some "Old Testament" past, especially when the so-called "New Testament" certifies it as something that belongs to the New Priesthood (Hebrews 7). Several literal details about tithing were indeed annulled when the Levitical priesthood became obsolete, but both the principle and the literal act of tithing remain current.
A stubborn matriarchal soul may want to retort, "Well, the act of tithing may remain a current practice, but that does not make it a very important matter to God. If we do it, that is fine, but, if we don't, that is fine as well". Let us consider, however, how God feels about such a nonchalant attitude towards tithing. Having already been forewarned of error #3 above, let us go to the very last book of the so-called "Old Testament", the book of Malachi.
Fellow believer, if you read the book of Malachi, treating it as a Word from God (without the anti-"Old-Testament" disdain that most believers matriarchally harbour), you will see that it is a book on priesthood, detailing God's indictments against unrighteous priesthood, as well as pointing out the type of relationship that fellow believers should have with those who are exercising a righteous priesthood. In the midst of this word on priesthood, the Holy Spirit declares the following:
"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? 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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. 11 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. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:7-12)
Does the above sound as if God could not care less about His people's stance on tithing? If you "read between the lines", you will see that God's wrath towards those who do not tithe is stirred by their "unappreciative attitude". In other words, someone who holds tithing in low regard is proving to God that he does not appreciate those who are making deep and disinterested spiritual sacrifices to produce spiritual fruit to nurture his spiritual growth. When the 3 brave men described in 1 Chronicles 11 overheard David wishing to drink from a well of Bethlehem, they courageously infiltrated enemy territory, reached the well, and drew water from it that they took back to David. When David realised what they had just done, he was so stricken with reverence that he dared not drink the water, offering it in libation to God instead. In God's eyes, those who are nonchalant about the concept of tithing are equivalent to a David who would have remained indifferent about the 3 brave men's sacrifice, using the water from the well to either water a cactus or wash off horse manure from his backyard. God takes such indifference very personally because He sees those who make deep and righteous sacrifices for others as an extension of Himself:
"41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:41-44)
"40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matthew 10:40-42)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." (John 13:20)
"41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:41-46)
[Notice that the Lord casts those on the left to "eternal fire" (v41), not because they did not pray their "prayer of salvation" or because they were rebellious towards their "ministerial superiors". He directs the fire of His wrath at them because they were unable to recognise Him in those who were cloaked in weakness. Contrary to naïve popular belief, the Lord is not referring here to the poor in a literal sense of the word. He is referring to those who suffer lack, isolation, and emptiness as a result of their obedience to the Lord (as certified by Hebrews 11:35-40). This is the reason why God identifies with them. As He indicates in 1 Corinthians 6:17, those who walk in the spirit (and not the soul) become One with Him. Therefore, they become a manifestation of Him on Earth, and they become a litmus test for those who are constantly clamouring for God's visitation and who claim that they love God.]
This personal connection between God and those who exercise true priesthood explains why God declares in Malachi 3:8 that those who are indifferent to tithing are robbing Him, and not just those who exercise His priesthood. God does not need food. God does not need "meat" to be brought to His spiritual house in order to eat. That "meat" is for His true priests, yet He sees it as a test of what people think about Him. It is easy to swear loyalty to an Almighty God that needs from no one and can "give to all" without so much as a drop of sweat. It is more difficult to be loyal and faithful to a God clothed in frailty, to a God who appears before you in weakness and vulnerability, dependent on you either for His prosperity or His earthly demise. It is easy to worship a deity that has a big label that reads "GOD OF THE UNIVERSE" on his forehead. It is more difficult to bow before a God clothed in weakness, a God with no human credentials or "establishment recognition" to boast of. That is when your love for God is truly put to the test. That is when the eyes of your faith are tested for spiritual blindness.
"34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. 39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." (John 9:34-41)
"10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not." (John 1:10-11)
All of this means that God sees tithing as a matter directly between man and Himself. This is why the first reference to tithing in Scripture (Genesis 14:18-20) shows Abraham tithing to a man who is then described in the "New Testament" in terms befitting an epiphany in the flesh of God Himself (let him who has ears hear what the Lord is saying) ...
"1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." (Hebrews 7:1-3)
This is also why the second reference to tithing in Scripture happens after Jacob has an experience that leaves him terrified, for He perceived that He had just been in the Fearsome and All-Consuming Presence of God Himself:
"16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. 18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my fatherís house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be Godís house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." (Genesis 28:16-22)
Therefore, to casually dismiss tithing as an outdated practice of the "Old-Testament past" is an affront to God Himself, and it reveals a very low sense of reverence for God's Holiness, along with a very tepid ability to perceive God's presence, which in turn reveals a heart that does not yet know Him in depth. If you need a nametag to recognise someone, you can hardly claim to know him.
A stubborn and petty soul may want to insist that any reference to Malachi 3:7-12 (quoted above) is irrelevant, pointing to the fact that Malachi specifically mentions Levi in 3 different verses, which would supposedly imply that the book of Malachi is specifically about the Levitical priesthood only (and no other). Such an argument, however, raises 3 problems of its own:
After having to admit that Malachi cannot be so casually dismissed, some matriarchals may grudgingly be willing to concede the importance that tithing has in God's eyes, especially in light of what God declares in Malachi 3:7-12. But, even so, they will still claim that tithing is in no way "compulsory", or, said another way, that there is no "law" in place any more compelling them to tithe. Like a dog returning to his vomit, the matriarchal may go back to his "Old-Testament/New-Testament" paradigm and point out that tithing is not emphasised at all as a "law" or a "requirement" in the New Testament. Even when it is certified in Hebrews 7 as a practice that applies to the New-Covenant priesthood of Melchizedek, the matriarchal will snidely and confidently point to the Bible and say, "I don't care about all that you have said so far. It all sounds nice and dandy, but show me where it says in the New Testament that I must tithe. If tithing is still in place and remains so important to God, wouldn't God take the time to mention it repeatedly in the New Testament?"
To answer this question, we must consider a quality of God that most believers fail to notice, a quality silently present in the following passage:
"45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered." (Mark 6:45-51)
Notice that, as Yeshua was walking on the sea, He "would have passed by them" (v48). This phrase unfortunately passes over most believers' heads as they read the passage above. If you believe, however, that every word from the mouth of God is full of purpose and life and that He never says something "for no good reason at all", you must be willing to ask yourself, "What did God mean when He said that Yeshua would have walked past them?" If God is a God of love, and the disciples were at that moment going through turmoil at sea, why would Yeshua have even considered walking past them? Doesn't that sound cruel and uncaring? Often, when a statement from God in Scripture sounds "illogical", "contradictory", or "evil", it is actually a challenge from God to the hearer to discover an aspect in his or her thinking that is either erroneous or incomplete. Those believers who endeavour to be intellectually honest and who are after the truth and not just "religion" will accept the challenge and endeavour to resolve the conflict arising in their minds, engaging in an internal dialogue with God and with themselves until they can unravel the apparent contradiction or inconsistency. Those who would just as well not be bothered with "details" will ignore such a challenge, returning to their religious talking points and simplistic slogans, thinking that their basic understanding of God and Christianity is more than enough to face God on "that day" and pass with "flying colours".
What, then, is the Lord challenging us to understand when He says that He "would have passed by them" in verse 48 above? In essence, He is reflecting a quality about Him that most believers are rather impervious to. God is Love, and love never forces itself on people. You cannot force someone to love you. Though you can "encourage" love in another person, true love must at some point be "born of its own", and, once it is born, it flows of its own, with no need for constant coaxing. The only way that true love can be "encouraged" in another person is by simply exposing your inner nature and allowing the other person to respond to that exposure. The duration of the exposure depends on the other person. If that person is quite averse to your inner nature, she or he will more than likely reject you immediately and create a separation that will terminate the exposure rather quickly. If that person is somewhat interested in your inner nature, that person will invite you into her or his realm, which will allow the exposure to continue and grow; a period of "conflict" may ensue during which your nature and the nature of the other person will clash, with your nature endeavouring to reshape the other person's nature and vice versa. During this period of "conflict", the other person may grow to resent or abhor the inner nature within you, which will again lead to a termination of the exposure. If the exposure survives this period of "conflict", the other person will reach a "riverbank". At this point, you must wait for the other person to proactively cross the river, meaning that she or he has decided to love you. In a sense, the other person must "call out for you" out of her or his own heart. If she or he doesn't, all you can do is walk away, for love in the other person never reached fruition.
Thus, when the Lord was planning to walk on past the disciples, He was testing their interest in Him. They had been struggling in the rough seas, but they were insisting on fighting with their natural strength and understanding. When they saw Yeshua walking on the sea, they did not recognise Him because they were not exercising their faith, which made them spiritually blind. As they saw the "surreal" figure of a man walking on water, they thought that it was a "spirit", according to the KJV translation of Mark 6:49. The word "spirit", however, is a mistranslation of the Greek word phantasma, which, as you may imagine, literally means "phantom" or "ghost". When they saw the "ghostly" figure, it suddenly jolted their mind away from the natural components of their surroundings and made them think about its spiritual elements. All along, they had seen the storm as nothing more than a random, meteorological event, without realising that it was being prompted by spiritual forces that could only be understood and "counterattacked" spiritually. Thinking that Yeshua was mayhap some sort of "unfriendly spiritual presence", they realised that it was time to call on God the Spirit to counter their unfriendly spiritual surroundings. This is why they immediately "cried out" (v49) upon seeing the "phantasm". The phrase "cried out" in this passage was translated from the Greek word anakrazo, which literally means, "to raise a cry from the depth of the throat", meaning that they finally let out a deep yell unto God from the depths of their inner being. Interestingly enough, the word anakrazo only appears 5 times in Scripture, and in 3 of those appearances, it is used to refer to possessed people crying out in the presence of Yeshua (Mark 1:23, Luke 4:33, Luke 8:28); the other time, it is used to refer to the angry crowd that stood before Pilate, demanding that Yeshua be crucified and that Barabbas be released (Luke 23:18). From this, it can be inferred that the word anakrazo is used in Scripture to refer to people whose souls are in deeply-rooted spiritual binds. We can say, therefore, that the disciples on the boat in Mark 6:45-51 were people possessed, not by a demon that would make their heads turn 360o, but by a more subtle spirit of Girgashite understanding that was as deeply entrenched within their soul as any demon in a "dramatically-possessed" man. Yet, even from the depths of their Girgashite possession, their souls finally cried out to God as they finally woke up to the fact that they needed to operate in their Spirit nature and not their natural understanding. It is when they finally showed interest in God the Spirit that the Lord walked towards them rather than past them. In the middle of the storm, God was silently asking them, "Do you love Me? Are you interested in Me as a Spirit?", and He was waiting for them to proactively tell Him, "Yes, we are more than interested". Had they remained silent and not cried out for Him, Yeshua would have walked on past them, and His relationship with them would have been radically damaged once they had gotten to Him on the other side of the sea.
This tendency to wait for a proactive response can also be seen in the following passage:
"13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread." (Luke 24:13-35)
Notice that, when they drew near to the village, Yeshua "made as though He would have gone further" (v28). In other words, He was testing them to see if they were still interested in Him. After scolding them all along the way, after singing their hearts with His words of judgement (v32), and after exposing them as faithless fools who were slow to believe God's prophetic word (v25), He left it up to them to decide whether they truly wanted more of Him or whether they preferred to simply left alone and allow the "rude" stranger to continue on his way. He was not going to force Himself on them. He was not going to exhort them to want more of Him. After He had "had His say", it was up to them to proactively say to Him, "We want more of you; your words hurt pretty deep, but we still want more of you". And, because they did proactively ask Him to stay with them (v29), they were exposed to God's resurrection nature, and their spiritual eyes were finally opened. Had they chosen to let the "rude stranger" continue on his "not-so-merry" way, their relationship with God would have been irreparably damaged; a "divorce" would have taken place between God and them, and they would have strolled away into the rubbish heap of eternal ignominy.
Natural man has a tendency to believe that the love of a woman can be won by lavishing her with extraordinary gifts and by making grandiose exhibitions of great wealth and power. Like a male peacock, the naturally-minded male believes that he can woo his love interest by flashing his feathers incessantly so as to show her how fantastic he is. If the Lord had the same approach, the sky would be filled day and night with ostentatious displays of power and glory from God in order to prove to mankind that He does exist and that He is "The Greatest, Bar None". Yet, God chooses to display His power and glory in a more subtle way, as if to say,
"I am here, but you will only see more of Me if your heart is drawn to My inner nature. Yes, I will do enough to get you to notice Me if your heart has the potential of opening up to Me, but once I have shown You enough of Me, I will stand silently and wait to see if You truly love Me. If you do, you will call on Me, and when I hear your call, I will reveal My Nature to you in deeper and deeper ways, and you shall know Me and I shall know you, and you will walk in My Nature, manifesting Me to others in the flesh, calling them to love Me the way you do."
The Lord God is interested in seeing if you are drawn to His Spirit Nature, to the essence of who He is. This is why He will not woo your soul with ostentations. Though He may at times manifest His miracles and power to break strangleholds and disintegrate binds in your understanding, in the end, He will silently challenge you to love Him for who He is and not what He can do (John 6). As you get to know Him, you will begin to see that God is a God of judgements and righteousness, that God is indeed Consuming Fire, that God is indeed a Male of War (Exodus 15:3), that God is indeed a Holy God, and, if you are "turned off" by Who He is, He will simply walk away, knowing that you truly do not love Him, regardless of how much you say that you do, and regardless of how much you love His power.
The reason why natural man has a hard time understanding this component of God's Love is because he fails to comprehend both the existence and the value of the invisible component in human nature. When God sees a human being, He sees an individual endowed with an invisible sovereignty that He Himself has given Him, a sovereignty that no power in the universe, not even His, can conquer through sheer strength. When natural man sees a fellow man, he sees a weak, temporal being that can provide personal benefits for him and that can be conquered if only "invaded" with greater power than he possesses. Natural man sees the object of his love as precisely that, an object, a passive object that his love comes to possess as he would an inanimate object like a house or a car. God, however, sees the object of His love as an entity that He comes to "vivify". As His Love's effects on that entity increase, the entity is to become more and more alive, more and more proactive, more and more capable of self-motivated actions. The object of natural man's love becomes easier to push towards the desired destination as it absorbs that "love". The object of God's True Love becomes more and more capable of moving towards the desired destination on its own as it absorbs God's Love. As a person wilfully absorbs more and more of God's Love, he or she becomes more and more like the One loving him or her, meaning that the Life of God will flow through his or her veins all the more; the quest for what is righteous and complete will become a natural quest, a quest that no one will need to compel the person towards from the outside.
When it comes to human relationships, this "silent compulsion" element in love is more understandable to women than to men. Since natural love objectifies rather than vivifies, greater strength leads to greater objectification of that which is "loved". In other words, the greater strength and power you have, the more likely you are to see the object of your natural "love" as an object manipulable by your power. This is why men see love more in terms of possession, and women see love more in terms of intimate communication. Because of this, men find it "illogical" when women expect them to understand their wants and needs without having to be "told" what they are, and they find it even more "illogical" when they do provide those wants and needs and find that the woman remains dissatisfied because the provision came only after those wants and needs were explicitly declared, with the man still unrepentant about not having known a priori.
"What did I do wrong?", the man shouts.
"You should have known", replies the woman.
"How can I know if you don't tell me", snaps the man.
"You would have known if you really loved me", answers the woman.
"How can you say that I don't love you? I am now giving you what you wanted, aren't I?", replies the man in frustration.
"You just don't get it, do you?", replies the woman in an even deeper, ineffable frustration.
This "silent communication" that occurs when you are operating in true love can be seen in the following passage:
"1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh." (Genesis 18:1-15)
Notice how Abraham saw these 3 strangers coming down the road and immediately knew who they were. Without speaking to them, without hearing a word from them, Abraham knew that those 3 strangers were God in the flesh. Notice also how the passage makes no effort whatsoever to say, "and these 3 strangers that visited Abraham that day were God", as if to say, "Just as Abraham knew without being told, you, the reader, should know as well".
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:4)
To understand what the Lord is saying here, you must be willing to go beyond the sentimentalist interpretation that soulish believers give to these words. Matriarchals usually picture Yeshua dressed in hippie-like attire, pronouncing these words with a look in His eyes worthy of a daytime soap-opera actor pronouncing a cheesy speech about love and understanding. To comprehend the Lord's words, however, you must focus on the word that most believers fail to notice in the verse above: the word "new". As the Lord declared to the same disciples earlier, the law and the prophets hang on two commandments: "Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind" and "Love your neighbour as you do yourself" (Matthew 22:36-40). If Yeshua had already told them that love was the foundation for all the commandments, what was so "new" about what He was saying in John 13:4 above? If the commandments that had already been given were already "enveloped" in love, why did Yeshua feel the need to give them a "new commandment" to love one another? As you can see, the word "new", when taken in the simple and literal sense of the word, makes Yeshua's statement above not only nonsensical but false, for there was nothing "new" about His "new" commandment. Thus, when Yeshua said "new", He was actually referring to the "New" Covenant. In other words, He was emphasising to His disciples that they were no longer to focus on God's commandments from the Old-Covenant perspective of compulsion, but rather from the New-Covenant perspective that sees beyond the external commandments and focuses on their internal foundation and spirit. As the Lord clearly declares in the so-called "Sermon on the Mount", under the Old Covenant, you can obey the Law by simply abiding by the commandments in a literal sense; under the New Covenant, you can only obey them if you abide by the underlying spiritual principles that they embodied, and, since God is declaring that their underlying foundation is love, God considers you "obedient to the Law" only if you abide by it in love, and, as we said above, God's Love implies a "silent compulsion" based on "silent communication". Therefore, when Jesus said "I give you this New Commandment, love one another", He was saying, "From now on, you are to abide by God's commandments without the need for God to constantly remind you of them". This means that, when Yeshua gave believers a "New Commandment" in John 13:4, He was not replacing the "old" commandments but rather changing the way we were to abide by them. This is why the Holy Spirit says the following:
"5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it." (2 John 1:5-6)
This connection between "love" and "law & commandments", is subtly emphasised throughout the "New Testament":
"7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:7-10)
Notice how the Holy Spirit speaks of "love" in the context of the Law and its commandments. Instead of nullifying the last 5 of the 10 commandments, He certifies them and ties them into true love. Notice also how He speaks of love in the context of "debt", which means that love begets obligations that are seen as "optional" by the loveless heart. Notice also how God speaks of love here in the context of tributes and customs, i.e.- taxes (v7). If you take all of this into account and consider how God has expressed Himself on the duty of tithing (Malachi 3:7-12), adding to it the fact that tithing is clearly not an Old-Covenant tradition tied to the Levitical priesthood, how can a heart full of the love of God not feel obligated to tithe? If you insist, after all of this, that tithing is a favour you do to God, you neither have grasped what God thinks about tithing, what the New Covenant is truly about, nor the fact that love is not just a suggestion but a law, at least if you claim to be living under the New Covenant. If you do not feel obligated to honour (v7) the Melchizedek priests in your life by tithing to them, you are not living under the law of love.
As preachers constantly emphasise (for the wrong reasons, mind you), Malachi 3:7-12 is the only time in all of Scripture where God challenges His people to "test" Him on something. The fact that the only thing God calls us to test Him on is tithing, combined with the fact that He does it just as the so-called "Old Testament" comes to a close explains God's silence on the obligatory nature of tithing in the New Testament. Just as God is willing to be tested on tithing, He also uses the issue of tithing to test those who say they love Him. Those who are waiting for God to tell them that the tithe is a law, not a suggestion, under the New Covenant are failing the test. Without realising it, the Church is failing "the biggest test of them all", for she has yet to truly understand tithing from the Spirit's perspective.
Despite all that we have shared, some believers may still want to say, "Well, even if we are willing to assume for a moment that tithing remains in place and is a 'requirement', there is still no proof that tithing should be practiced literally". This would mean that tithing should only be practiced in some "figurative", symbolic way, just as is the case, say, with God's rule on not eating pork. However, anyone making such a claim would be hard-pressed to find any Scriptural evidence supporting the idea that tithing became a purely "figurative" action under the New Covenant. The Lord is very clear in Scripture on the commandments that went from literal to figurative, commandments such as the ones related to food, and even circumcision. As we said above, these commandments are portrayed in a historical and cultural context that limits their scope to a particular people and time period. Circumcision and the laws on food, for example, were clearly established for and applied to the Israelites as a sign to differentiate them from the rest of the nations. Tithing, however, is not portrayed as a purely-Israelite act, as shown by the fact that Abraham tithed to a man (Melchizedek) who was obviously not his descendant and was the king of what some might deem a "heathen" nation. Instead of diminishing this fact, the New Testament "goes out of its way" to emphasise the "non-Hebrewness" of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7. Considering that tithing's literal manifestation is never explicitly nullified and that tithing is portrayed as an act that transcends cultural or historical barriers, anyone willing to claim that tithing's literal manifestation is no longer applicable stands on very shaky "legal" ground. Those who may want to reemphasise God's silence on the matter in the New Testament must not only remember that a law remains in place until explicitly overturned or replaced, they must also remember what we said in the section above. Those who, like dog to a vomit, return to the idea that tithing was explicitly overturned when the Mosaic Law was supposedly overturned should stop fooling themselves by pretending that they are seeking the truth in an intellectually honest way, for it is more than clear that neither was tithing a part of the Mosaic Law, nor was the Mosaic Law ever nullified (instead, it was perfected).
Those who remain doubting-Thomas-sceptical about the literal nature of tithing under the New Covenant should be warned of the following: As we have seen above, the sense of obligation to tithe should derive from the Law of Love, the higher Law that undergirds all the commandments we follow under the New Covenant, and, as we also saw above, your tithing reveals your ability to discern God in others. Therefore, we can say that your tithing is a measure of your love for others as Spirit-beings capable of manifesting God in the flesh. Given that tithing is a test of your love for others, consider what the Lord says in the following passage:
"15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15-16)
As we shared when we studied tithing in detail, Scripture reveals that, to tithe under the New Covenant, you must tithe to the Melchizedek priests in your life who are disinterestedly providing you with spiritual "bread" and "wine" so that you may grow in your spiritual grace. Obviously, your appreciation and your love for such people must be spiritual in its essence, but, if that appreciation never goes beyond "spiritual gratitude", the passage above reveals that its sincerity must be put into question. In that sense, it would be like a husband who says to his wife, "I love you" a thousand times a day but who pockets 100% of his paycheque every month, thinking that his wife should get a job of her own if she wants to buy things for herself. Love, "spiritual" and "intangible" as it may be, will always have tangible manifestations. When God said that He loved us, His love eventually manifested itself in the tangible form of a man named "Yeshua", a man who was willing to be nailed to a tangible cross so that we might be restored. Having said this, it is worth noting that true love's manifestations may differ from the gooey, often-shallow, and frequently counterproductive manifestations expected by the soul, but there will be manifestations nonetheless.
As we shared when we studied tithing in detail, tithing has a spiritual component which entails surrendering your entire life in sacrifice unto God, to the point that you will be willing to go through green-horse death and 5th-seal hibernation. However, if you carry out this tithing without understanding that God is calling you to do all these things to liberate others, you will have missed the point of your sacrifice, and that sacrifice shall be for naught.
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:3)
If you make the sacrifice for God's sake only, as if to say, "I couldn't care less about others; I only do it for God", then your love for God is as shallow as the water on a rice paddy.
"20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." (1 John 4:20-21)
If your love for others is not high enough to see them as potential manifestations of God on Earth, you will not love them enough to tithe the way God wants you to tithe.
Having said all of the above, it must be emphasised that the Church is basically made up of two groups of people: those who tithe the wrong way and those who do not tithe, full stop. Those who do tithe do so under an Old-Covenant mentality. Just as in the Old-Covenant days, they tithe to the visible priests wearing the visible labels and ministerial robes, the ones who "minister" at the visible so-called local "temple", the place where the local faithful gather to visibly so-called "worship" God. This is what confuses the "anti-tithers", prompting them to equate tithing with the Old-Covenant ways. Neither of these two groups realise, however, that, under the New Covenant, not only do believers remain with the responsibility to tithe, but they now have the added responsibility of having to determine, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who they are supposed to tithe to. The Israelites under the Old Covenant did not have this problem. They just had to set apart a literal tithe and give it to the fellows wearing the Levite robes at the Temple. The New-Covenant believer, however, must go to God in prayer and ask Him who the Melchizedek priests in his or her life are, and he or she becomes accountable before God if he or she gives the wrong amount to the wrong people. As Yeshua has said (and the Church fails to comprehend), the Law was not only not "annulled", it became more difficult to abide by, and this generation, like all the others behind it, will pass away into ignominy without having understood this fact.
Fellow believer, surprising and confusing as it will be to some, there is an aspect about literal tithing that must be mentioned. Under the Old Covenant, there was a literal separation between "priests" and "laymen". As a result, all the people under the Old Covenant who belonged to the "laymen" group were obligated to tithe to people who did not belong their group. Under the New Covenant, however, this separation has been erased, for the veil has been torn and we are all a nation of kings and priests (Matthew 27:51, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). This means that it is possible for a priest to tithe to him or herself, especially if he or she is not receiving spiritual bread or wine from any outside source, being forced to "self-produce" all of his or her spiritual bread and wine. The percentage that such a person may tithe to him or herself depends on how much of that spiritual bread and wine is self-produced. As we said above, you may have multiple Melchizedek priests providing for you (one of which may be yourself), and you are responsible not only for detecting who they are but also for determining the percentage of your tithe that corresponds to each one. The Old-Covenant "tithers" do not have to struggle with such nuances. Just like the Israelites of the Old-Covenant days, all they need to do is set apart 10% of their income and give it all to their local church on Sunday when the collection plate comes around. There is no need to evaluate who is truly feeding you and who isn't. There is no need to distinguish between soul sweets (disguised as "spiritual food") and true food that nourishes the spirit. There is no need to determine how much corresponds to each one. Life is much simpler when you are an Old-Covenant believer, but the same can be said of life as a child. Wilful immaturity has a lot of simplifying "benefits".
"1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." (Galatians 4:1-11)
[The possibility of tithing to oneself explains why most of the early believers portrayed in the Bible were rarely shown "tithing". Since most of them were lonely sojourners, and since there was no sort of "formal priesthood" established to minister to them in any way, they were mostly forced to provide for themselves, but that did not take away from their responsibility to tithe their very lives unto God.]
Not only do the Church's "tithers" tithe the wrong way in the literal sense, but they also fail to understand the spiritual side of tithing. More than money, God wants His people to tithe their very lives in utter sacrifice unto God for the sake of God and others. If you understand the spiritual side of tithing, the literal aspect of it will flow naturally from within you. If you only understand the literal side of tithing, the spiritual side will not necessarily be obvious to you, and, if it isn't, your literal tithing will yield very little eternal fruit before God. The visitor whose question prompted this word did read our detailed postings on tithing, but, even so, he was so focused on the literal aspect of the issue that the spiritual component of tithing being illustrated in those postings went by unnoticed in his heart and mind. This is a typical fruit of the Old-Covenant mind. Believers who still operate under an Old-Covenant paradigm tend to get caught up in futile discussions over literal aspects of the Christian "faith", like medieval monks arguing over how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, all the while missing the real principles that God wanted to talk about.
"7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2:7-9)
"5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." (1 Timothy 1:5-11)
"14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:14-16)
"9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." (Titus 3:9-11)