The tithe (Part 1)
First posted: May 22(-23), 2006
In this article, we begin to study the Scriptural principles behind "tithing" and the "tithe".
One night, some years ago, as I was walking back home, thoughts began to fill my heart and mind. As they did, I began to "preach" within myself, as if I were standing before a large congregation. In my "preaching", I was speaking to the "audience" about the many teachings that we blindly accept as "unquestionable" Church doctrine without ever sitting down to see whether or not those teachings are truly backed by Scripture.
As I went on with my "preaching", God suddenly stopped me and asked me, "Where must you leave your tithes?" The question seemed to come out of nowhere. During my internal preaching, I had not talked at all about tithes or offerings. I became silent for a second, and, then, I gave my knee-jerk reply, and I said, "You must leave them at the local congregation", to which the Lord replied, "Where is that in Scripture?"
I was once again stunned by the Lord's question. I then realized that I had no answer to His questions. There was no passage in Scripture that said, "Tithe to your local congregation". As I was internally "preaching" to a "multitude" that night, I suddenly realized that I was also preaching to myself. I had accepted the "you-must-tithe-to-your-local-congregation" doctrine without ever questioning its Scriptural validity or foundation. Through my "preaching" to "others", I was actually breaking a doctrinal chain in my own mind. Fellow believer, when there is a word inside of you, utter it, even if you are alone. That word will begin to do things in the spirit realm beyond your natural comprehension. You will break chains in the lives of others whom you cannot see, and you will even release new things into your own soul.
As I meditated on the Scriptural answer to the Lord's tithe question, the Lord reminded me of the following passage:
"17And 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. 18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all." (Genesis 14:17-20)
The Lord then said to me,
"You must tithe to whomsoever gives you spiritual bread and wine. That is your Melchizedek priest."
As we have said before, "bread" points to the prophetic anointing, while wine points to an evangelistic impartation. Someone is giving you "bread", for example, when he or she is giving you an impartation that causes you to grow in the prophetic anointing. This is more than simply being a member of a church with an official "prophet". There is a great, great number of churches around the world where the only believers who seem to be moving in the prophetic anointing are the so-called "prophetic team". In such churches, there is no prophetic "bread" being given, even if the prophetic team is comprised of internationally-renowned "super stars".
As we have studied before, Luke 1:35 reveals that true "covering" leads to the "conceiving" of whatever is covering you, because true covering "begets". If you come under the shadow of another believer's apostolic endowment, for example, that shadow will eventually beget an apostolic nature within you (if your soul is willing to "conceive" that apostolic seed). As that apostolic shadow hovers over you, you will begin to talk like an apostle, walk like an apostle, and think like an apostle. In short, you will become a full-fledged apostle yourself. If the shadow is of God and your soul is willing, you will eventually become less and less dependent on the human agent providing that shadow. If a shadow creates a sense of permanent dependency on it, it is not of God; it is of satan, and it will eventually stunt your growth in God. Dependence is tied to control. Therefore, it can be said that false shadows are coverings that seek to control those whom they are covering. Instead of imparting to those covered, a false covering drains spiritual authority and power out of people. While true coverings act like a water-giving faucet, false coverings act like water-sucking vacuum cleaners. A true covering is like food that provides the body with new energy, allowing the body to move independently of the food provider. By contrast, a false covering is like an illegal drug that gives you a sense of energy that is really being generated by your own body as it interacts with the drug. You feel an ephemeral rush of energy, but your body is left with less energy, weaker than you were before the initial rush. As you become weaker, your body becomes more dependent on the drug, and you become a pathetic slave of those who are "feeding" you the drug. While food creates new, independent life and growth, an illegal drug only wastes away the energy that was already in your body to begin with, and it makes you the victim of an unhealthy and totally unnecessary dependence. The same can be said about "true coverings" (food) versus "false coverings" (illegal drugs).
Therefore, your brother or sister is giving you bread and wine when he or she is giving you a spiritual impartation that is prompting you to grow in your prophetic and evangelistic endowments. As we have said before, the 2 "grace" ministries are the prophetic and the evangelistic ministries. The prophetic ministry causes you to ooze with "spiritual" (vertical) grace, while the evangelistic ministry causes you to ooze with "natural" (horizontal) grace. Therefore, we can say that whosoever gives you bread and wine is causing you to grow in your grace.
While prophetic grace refers to your uniqueness in the eyes of God above, evangelistic grace refers to your conquering grace in the eyes of men and before the created world around you:
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52)
"Grace" and "beauty" are synonyms. Therefore, someone who is truly giving you "bread and wine" is imparting beauty to you, and it is a beauty that can exist "on its own", independently of the "beautifying agent". Even God does not use grace as a means of manipulation. He allows you to operate in your endowed grace independently of Him, even if it is only for a season:
"6And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. 7I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. 8Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. 9Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. 10I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. 15But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. 16And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, 18And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them. 19My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 16:6-19)
Notice how God's endowed grace leads to "multiplication" and "enlargement" (v7), which points to prophetic fruitfulness and evangelistic expansion. Notice also how the Lord speaks of "covering" as He speaks of "beautifying" (v8-10). Notice also how we can take our God-given grace and "run" (v15-19), which reveals that God does not use grace as a means of unhealthy control, even when He is the source of our lives and the reason for our very existence.
When God endows you with grace, His intention is not to "suck away" your identity. Instead, His desire is to see you grow and develop so that you will willingly return to Him and be One with Him for eternity. God cannot be One with an incomplete person, so His desire is to complete you in Him so that you may become seamlessly compatible with Him. Therefore, any endowment of grace that sucks away your spiritual identity and makes you permanently dependent on the "spiritual" identity of a human is not a true endowment from God.
As we said above, God forces no one to be with Him. You can take the grace that has been given to you and run. However, there is a consequence if you do. According to 1 Timothy 6:16, God alone has "immortality" (which is way more than mere "eternal existence"). Therefore, the fullness of God's grace can only abide in you forever if you are joined to Him forever. If you "take your grace and run" (from Him), the "sparkle" of God's grace shall remain on you for a season, but that sparkle will slowly fade with time until it disappears and is no more. That is what Man got when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He got a life where he could develop a judgment system independently of God; he could build a life and a world of his own making, without the "input" of God. But that life and that world is like a mechanical watch that is slowly winding down until it grinds to a halt. Grace apart from God is a beauty that ruthlessly fades with time until it is no more.
As we have studied before, the Old Covenant is a covenant of permanent intermediaries where God remains permanently separated from man. Under the Old Covenant, a high priest would go behind the veil once a year to get a "portion" of God's grace that would last the people through the next year. Since that "portion" would run out, the high priest was compelled to return the following year to get the "people's filling of grace" for the next season (Hebrews 9:25). Therefore, we can say that congregations where members need to go every Sunday to get their "filling of God" for the next week are Old-Covenant churches that have yet to understand what New-Covenant life is all about.
"12Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. " (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
[The word "children" in verse 13 was translated from the Greek word huios, which is better translated as "sons". The word "could" in verse 13 does not appear in the original Greek text; instead of "could", a better word would be "would". The word "end" in verse 13 was translated from the Greek word telos, which can be translated as "end, goal", and has the connotation of a "finish line" you fix your eyes on from afar as you run towards it; this is the reason why the prefix "tele-" is used to denote things that travel from afar. Based on all of the above, verse 13 should really say, "... that the sons of Israel would not gaze at the goal of that which is ...".
The word "abolished" in verse 13 was translated from the Greek verb katargeo, which is derived from the word kata meaning "down from, according to" and argeo meaning "to be without work, idle, inactive, linger". Therefore, a more exact translation than "abolished" would be "rendered idle" or "rendered inactive". All of this reveals some very sobering facts about Old-Covenant glory. Not only is it a glory that fades away, but it is also a glory that has a decree of "idleness" over it. In other words, spiritual "idleness" ensues wherever Old-Covenant principles remain standing. Those who allow themselves to be "transfixed" by the glory of Old-Covenant ministers automatically cast a curse of "idleness" over their spiritual lives. If you set your goal (telos) on Old-Covenant glory, you will operate in spiritual matters for a while, but that "spirituality" will eventually cease. Like the 70 Old-Testament elders (Numbers 11:25), you will "prophecy once, but not any more". After a limited and temporary impartation, your spiritual growth will cease and you will enter into spiritual idleness, even if the naked eye sees you going to and fro performing many "Church-related" activities.
If you read through Exodus 34:28-35, you will see how the conformist acceptance of Old-Covenant glory leads to people who do not grow because they delegate the "more spiritual stuff" to Old-Covenant "leaders" (Deuteronomy 5:24-27). Instead of having a people who long to behold the true and fearsome Glory of God, you get a people who shy away from even a temporary reflection of that glory. You get people who may speak to God's Back, but not people who speak to God Face to face. You get people who do not grow in the deep apostolic wisdom, overflowing prophetic anointing, and overpowering evangelistic authority of God; instead, you get people who need to be spoon-fed small doses of "spiritual stuff", because their spiritual digestive systems are unwilling and unable to hold the "word of justice" (Hebrews 5:11-14). God's Face irradiates His justice; therefore, if justice and judgments are not to a believer's liking, he or she will shy away from God's Face, and his or her spiritual growth and transformation will automatically cease.
The "idleness" inherent in the Old Covenant not only affects the "conformists", it also serves as a stumbling block for those who long to live in the fullness of the New Covenant. Old-Covenant structures serve as a hindrance that renders remnant believers idle, unnecessarily delaying the fulfillment of God's purposes in their lives. Old-Covenant structures leave remnant believers sitting idly "by the wayside", hindering the flow of blessings and life that can emanate from them to the rest of the Body. Just as with the "Joshua generation" in the days of Moses, the remnant are sent into forcible idleness on account of those who prefer the Old Covenant. However, God's remnant are a "restless" remnant, and they will not "sit silently" as they watch precious chronos time idly ticking by. Through the zeal in their inner man, they are declaring curse judgments against the "Let's wait" attitude, and all those who cling to that attitude shall be cursed along with it.]
Unlike the Old Covenant, the New Covenant is one of perennial access to God. Under the New Covenant, you are not a rechargeable battery that plugs into God once a week. Instead, you become a power source that is perennially connected to the Only Immortal One. Your 24 hours in the day become absorbed in God. Any and everything you say, do, or think will be in the context of the Lord God of Israel. There is no longer a separation between the "secular you" and the "spiritual you", just as there is no longer a separation between "ministers" and "laymen". Under the New Covenant, you do not need to be literally "reading your Bible" or "evangelizing" in order to be "in God", because you will see God in everything. You will be watching Manchester United playing Liverpool, and you will see God in the midst of it. You will be watching news about a plane crash, and you will see God's hand and hear God's voice explaining the spiritual underpinnings of that crash. You will be organizing documents at work, and you will discern a message from God for your company or your nation as you peruse the documents. You will be driving down the highway, and God will speak to you through the license plate of a passing car. As you walk in the New Covenant, you will see the imprint of God and the imprint of the spirit realm in the world around you.
If you read through Genesis 14:17-20 (quoted above), you will notice that Melchizedek did not ask anything of Abram before giving him bread and wine. Melchizedek did not request a commitment from Abram that would turn Abram into Melchizedek's permanent "serf". He did not even request the tithe before giving Abram bread and wine! This means that those who act as Melchizedek priests in your life will endow you with grace (prophetic bread and evangelistic wine) without demanding anything first. Their giving unto you will be disinterested and selfless; they will not require a permanent "loyalty to them". They will give unto you because you are important to them, regardless of what you plan to give to them in return.
The grace that is derived from God is freely given:
"32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:32-39)
[Fellow believer, fear enters my heart as I read the question in verse 33. That question is loaded with God's zeal for His people. Anyone who dares to "charge" for the impartation of grace is illegally selling a product that has been decreed "free" by the Fearsome God of Israel. If a pastor offers "spiritual grace" and "pastoral covering" in exchange for loyalty to him and your "free labor" in "his" church, that pastor is defying God's decree. If a "minister" insists on receiving monetary blessings or adulation from others before imparting a spiritual blessing, that "minister" is a member of the "spiritual mafia". You cannot seek after personal gain using what God has labeled "free". As verse 34 declares, it was Christ who died for you, and, if someone wants to die for you, let him or her do so "in Christ" and "according to Christ", which means that he or she will do so "free of Old-Covenant charges", as Christ did. In his or her giving, a selfless Melchizedek priest binds you to God and God alone (not to him or her).
In the context of the surrounding verses, verse 35 makes a serious indictment against anyone who sets a "price" on God's grace. Those who try to "extract from the purse" (Judas-style, John 12:4-6) are separating God's people from the love of the Anointed One who freely gave Himself for us, and anyone foolish enough to stand in the way between God's love and His people shall see the "nasty" side of God's love, for He shall turn like a bear robbed of her cubs (Hosea 13:8); God's love is not a "gooey" Hindu-hippie love; it is a fierce love that consumes, because God is love (1 John 4:16), and God is consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). You cannot separate His love from His consuming fire, because you cannot separate God from Himself.
Notice how Paul goes on to speak of his disinterested sacrifice for others (v36), even as he is declaring that God's grace is free! Even as you give yourself for others, you are binding no one to yourself. On the contrary, you are bringing them closer to God. As you give yourself, you disappear from view, and all that others will see is God. They will love God and run after Him, like a bride who sees His beloved. If you are after personal recompense, you will be getting in the way of their embrace, and you will incur the wrath of the Bridegroom, the very Bridegroom who calls Himself "Love". You are to serve as a "uniting bridge", not a "dividing wall". When you see your Beloved running to you along the bridge, the last thing you think about is the bridge!]
"6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:6-8)
[There is an apparent "contradiction" between verses 6 and 7 that most believers don't seem to discern. Why would God say that He will freely give us to drink of the water of life in verse 6, and then turn around and speak of those who "overcome"? Doesn't overcoming imply a battle, and doesn't a battle imply a sacrifice, as when a soldier makes personal sacrifices to fight the enemy (2 Timothy 2:1-7)? And don't sacrifices imply "paying a price"? Why, then, would God say that we can freely drink of the water of life? The key to answering this question lies in the "externality" of the price demanded. The price that God requires is your very life. That life is already inside of you. You don't have to go out and work to earn external "spiritual money" that will allow you to buy the water of life. The price that God requires (i.e.- your life) is not external to you, and it is something that you eventually have to give up anyway. You are not required to gain the approval of others in order to acquire the "spiritual currency" that God demands of you. When you are working at a company, you must gain the approval of your bosses in order to get compensated for your work. If they do not deem your work to be "up to par", they will fire you, and they might not even pay you if your work was offensive to them. If you do not match up to their requirements, they might not even hire you to begin with, and you will be left to idle by the wayside, with no means to acquire more "currency". Without that external currency, you cannot go to the supermarket and buy things. Imagine what the clerk would think if you said to him, "I have no money to buy this bag of chips, but I will pay with my own life; do you take that currency?". God, however, does not require you to gain the approval of external human agents. He does not demand that you be "recognized" and "ordained" by an "external commission of hierarchs" who will externally supply you with the needed "currency". All He wants is that you give Him the life that is already inside of you, a life that was freely given to you to begin with, and a life that you must eventually surrender anyway, because your "life is for rent". Yesterday (May 21, 2006), the Lord impressed upon my heart the lyrics of a song by the British singer Dido entitled "Life for rent". As the Lord had me writing the words above, I got goose bumps as I began to understand why God had made me feel that there was a hidden message behind that song, a message that I was unable to discern at that time. Here are part of the song's lyrics, adapted from lirama.net:
I've always thought
It's just a thought, only a thought
But if my life is for rent, and I don't
learn to buy
If my life is for rent...
"1Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
[Before the "Keep-the-Gospel-simple" people get too excited, it is important to clarify the word "simplicity" in verse 3. This word was translated from the Greek word haplotes, which is derived from the word haplous meaning "single, whole"; haplous, in turn, is derived from the prefix a (in the sense of "union") and pleko meaning "to weave together"; in other words, haplous means "something that has been woven together into a single thing". Therefore, haplous and haplotes do not have the connotation of something that lacks "complexity". Instead, they speak of something that is united in ehad Oneness and whose woven intricacy emphasizes that Oneness.
Interestingly enough, the word haplotes can also be translated as "not self-seeking, generous, liberal" and is explicitly used in that sense in verses such as 2 Corinthians 1:12, 8:2, 9:11 and Romans 12:8. A haplotes believer will disinterestedly espouse you to "One husband" (v2), not to him or herself. He or she will be "jealous over you" (v2), but in the context of your union to God, not to him or herself.]
While the grace that is derived from God is freely given, the grace that is derived from man is never free. It is always given in terms of what will be given back in return. God will stop giving you grace if you are ungrateful to Him for the grace you have already received, but, even so, He gives you the "opportunity" to be ungrateful, so to speak. If you are grateful for the grace you have already been given, He will freely give you more. This creates a virtuous circle of grace and gratitude:
His grace ==> Your gratitude ==> More of His grace ==> More gratitude from you ==> Even more grace from Him ...
The Greek word for "gratitude", eucharistia, is derived from the Greek word for "grace", charis, which shows how the Greeks understood that grace (charis) begets gratitude (eucharistia). It is no coincidence that both words are so similar in Greek, in English ("grace" vs. "gratitude"), and in most other languages. Grace and gratitude are tied in a cycle that is always spawned by an initial endowment of free grace from above. "Coincidentally", the word for a "free gift" in Greek is charisma, which is again derived from the word charis, and the English word "gratis" (meaning "free") is related to the word "grace". A grace that is not free is not grace.
Not only did Melchizedek freely give bread and wine to Abram, he also blessed him, and all before receiving a single thing from Abram. In our culture, the word "blessing" has been bastardized into meaning "something that brings me personal benefit". In Scripture, and, as used by the Jewish people, the word "blessing" is way more than the endowment of a temporary "personal benefit". Instead, it represents the fulfillment of a person's calling and potential in life. When you truly "bless" someone, you are praying for the mighty manifestation of the charisma gifts hidden inside the person so that he or she may fulfill his or her purpose in life. True "blessing" is long-term in its nature, and it is based on your prior recognition of the person's hidden potential. You cannot truly bless a person if you do not see any potential in him or her.
An often misunderstood verse of Scripture is verse 14 in the passage below:
"6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not." (Romans 12:6-14)
[The word "simplicity" in verse 8 was translated from the Greek word haplotes, which (as we have said above) means "singleness, oneness" and also has the connotation of "disinterested generosity". Therefore the Lord is saying in verse 8 that we must give without any personal interest, which means that we must give with the single interest of blessing the other person, with no double-faced hidden agenda. Our giving must not detract attention from the One giver of all. If our "giving" hinders the other person's direct access to God (because we got in the way), then it is not "haplotes" giving.]
Notice how this passage, which ends with a word on "blessing", begins with a word on "gifts" and "grace", which emphasizes what was said above: Your desire to bless another person will emanate from the gifts and potential that you discern in that person. It is impossible to bless a person whom you deem "giftless". As we have said before, something is "cursed" when it is "condemned unto destruction", which means that "no good use" is found in it; you would not destroy something if it still has some usefulness. When you throw a pair of run-out batteries in the garbage, you do so because their usefulness (i.e.- the purpose for which they were created) has run out. By throwing them in the garbage, you are "sealing their doom". You are condemning them unto "incinerator" destruction, and you are thereby "cursing" them. In short, to "bless" something is to pray that its potential be realized; to "curse" something is to declare that it no longer has any redeemable potential, and is therefore deserving of destruction. Things that no longer have potential must be destroyed; otherwise, they get in the way of other things which do have potential. That is the reason why we throw out garbage everyday. If we did not, that garbage would pile up in our houses, and it would get in the way of other things that are still useful.
Based on all of the above, it is easier to understand verse 14. Most people understand this verse to mean that you must wish your persecutors "good health and much wealth". However, to truly bless your persecutor implies the willingness to recognize the redeemable spiritual potential that may be hidden in that person, even if that person is working against you. Since unrighteousness hinders the God-potential in people, true blessings will always unleash judgments against the hindering unrighteousness in the person being blessed.
As we have studied before, Stephen blessed his persecutor Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:60-8:1). However, that blessing did not lead to "health and wealth" for Saul. On the contrary, it led to Saul being called a "mule" by God (Acts 9:5) and to him going blind without eating or drinking for 3 days (Acts 9:9). After that, Stephen's "blessing" of Saul led to Saul (renamed "Paul") enduring a life of constant turmoil, persecution, and lack (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Yet, in the midst of all of that, Paul was indeed a "blessed" man because the mighty gifts that were hidden inside of him were able to flourish throughout his life until he died. This flourishing did require a harsh judgment against him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), and it also required a "thorn in the flesh" that hounded him throughout his life (2 Corinthians 12:6-10). Paul was indeed able to fulfill his calling in life, and his life is blessing us, even to this day. As Stephen and others "blessed" Saul of Tarsus, they unleashed judgments against him that broke through the wall of his unrighteousness. Once the wall fell, the potential inside Paul was able to grow and be fully manifested.
As we have said many times, Scripture often speaks of a cutoff line, a level of unrighteousness past which the potential inside becomes irremediably lost (1 John 5:16-17, 1 Samuel 15:26-28). This cutoff line can only be discerned in the Spirit. As you behold a person (whether "friend" or "foe"), God will show you who is a "hidden Paul" and who is a "dying Saul". You will see the potential that others cannot see, and you will see the potential that is no longer there, even when others think it is. Saul of Tarsus looked like a "lost cause", a bitter and hateful man who would oppose Messiah until the day of his death (Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:1-2), yet God was able to redeem him through judgment (Acts 9:3-5, Isaiah 1:26-28, Amos 5:24, Isaiah 62:1-3). In the "Arabia" desert of judgments, God molded him into a vessel unto His Glory (Galatians 1:17).
By contrast, king Saul seemed like a shoo-in for the "Spiritual Hall of Fame". He had been anointed by God to be the first ever king of Israel, and spiritual signs and wonders confirmed his anointing before many people (1 Samuel 9:15-17, 1 Samuel 10:9-16, 1 Samuel 11:5-11). Yet, after the events described in 1 Samuel 15, king Saul was a "dead man walking", a man with no mantle and no anointing of God, even though he remained with the visible mantle as the official "king of the land".
"13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 14But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." (1 Samuel 16:13-14)
[Notice that, as David was anointed (v13), the Spirit of God immediately departed from Saul (v14). This is clear evidence that the anointing was no longer over Saul, because Scripture clearly ties the anointing with the Spirit of the Lord resting upon you, as shown by verse 13. Contrary to popular belief (and even contrary to David's own belief), Saul was no longer an "anointed man" after David had been anointed. Only one person could hold the anointing as "king of Israel"; no two persons could "hold the post" at the same time, for our God is not double-souled. Let him who has ears hear what the Lord is saying!]
"10And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?" (1 Samuel 21:10-11)
[This happened as David was hiding from "king" Saul. Notice, however, that the servants of Achish recognized David as the "king of the land" (v10), even when Saul had the "official" title. This reveals a spiritual fact: Even though man may not recognize your spiritual anointing and authority, the enemy and his cohorts do, because they have warred against you in the spirit realm, and they know what God has done and can do through you. Even though they may hate you to death, they do have an awareness of your invisible authority and anointing, because they are spirit beings who operate in the non-visible realm.]
The one who seemed visibly approved of God ("king" Saul) was a man who had irremediably lost his "potential", and the one who seemed a shoo-in for hell (Saul of Tarsus) was the one who had a redeemable potential that eventually flourished, and it flourished to such a mighty extent that it continues to impart powerful blessings, even to this day. This is the reason why "king" Saul was cursed by Samuel (1 Samuel 15:26-28) and Saul of Tarsus was blessed by Stephen (Acts 7:60). To misquote Kenny Rogers,
All the remnant know that the secret to survivin'
And the best that you can hope for is to judge by what you hear
You never judge a person by the title on the table
There'll be facts enough for judging as you pierce the soul
[Lyrics modified from Kenny Rogers' song "The Gambler"; you can read the original lyrics on lirama.net]
Even though many Christians freely quote "Aaron's blessing", few understand the true meaning of the words they are saying:
"22And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." (Numbers 6:22-26)
When we are requesting that the Lord "make His Face shine upon" someone (v25), what are we really saying? As we have seen before, beholding God's Face leads to death because His Face emanates God's righteous nature. Therefore, as you stand before the splendor of His righteousness, you are automatically bombarded by His judgments. The Sun of Righteousness is a Consuming Fire who absolutely devours all temporality and unrighteousness that stands before Him. Thus, when you are requesting that the Lord "make His Face to shine upon" someone, you are requesting for that person to be bombarded by the rays of God's judgments, the way a person is bombarded by the sun's rays as the sun rises over him or her. You are requesting that that person be placed in the sometimes unpleasant oven of God's purifying judgments. You are praying for that person to be processed unto perfection so that he or she may become all that God planned for him or her to be.
"6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Interestingly enough, if the person you are blessing has no redeemable potential, the Face of God will consume him or her unto destruction.
"26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:26-29)
[The crowd that believes that the "meanie God of the Jews" died in the Old Testament will have a hard time digesting this passage. Instead of deemphasizing judgment under the New Covenant, the Lord is declaring that our burden of personal responsibility is higher under the New Covenant than under the law of Moses (v28). Instead of making life more "relaxed", judgment-wise, the "Spirit of grace" (v29) that has been made available to us makes us more accountable before God, for we now have the capability of living at a spiritual level that was impossible under the Old Covenant. To whom much is given, much is required.
The "devouring indignation" referred to in verse 27 points to the indignation manifested by God against Korah and his supporters (Numbers 16:20-21, Numbers 16:44-45). You become "combustion material" when you choose to follow the Korah spirit, even after God's red-, black-, and green-horse warnings. God is patient and merciful when it comes to warnings, but, once you stubbornly cross the line by dismissing His righteousness, it is over. His warnings are not a sign of God "acting nice". In the midst of His warnings, He does not cease from being Consuming Fire. His warnings are not a condoning of man's stubbornness, but rather a delay of His inevitable fire-manifestation, giving man time to adapt to His Fire-nature. He is Consuming Fire, and His manifestation will always imply Fire, delay or no delay, warning or no warning, grace or no grace. Only those who are willing to embrace and love His Consuming-Fire nature shall be One with Him. How can you be One with God if you hate His judgments? How can you live forever with a Being whose nature you abhor?]
"9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:9-10)
[Notice the "But" at the beginning of verse 10, emphasizing the fact that God's patient nature (v9) does not quench His Consuming Fire.
The word "elements" was translated from the Greek word stoicheion, which appears in 7 different verses in the New Testament (Galatians 4:3,9, Colossians 2:8,20, Hebrews 5:12, 2 Peter 3:10,12). In all the verses outside 2 Peter 3 (except for Hebrews 5:12), the word stoicheion is used to refer to elements of "bondage", which points to the enslaving structures of the Old Covenant (Galatians 4:24-25), structures to which we are no longer bound. If you re-bind yourself in slavery to Old-Covenant priests who do not allow you to operate in the freedom of the New Covenant (Galatians 4:9), you are exposing yourself to eternal loss in the "fervent heat" of verse 10 above, because you will be part of the stoicheion "elements" mentioned there. Hebrews 5:12 uses the word stoicheion in the context of stunted spiritual growth. Therefore, if you choose to stop growing, you are also exposing yourself to eternal loss in the "fervent heat" in the day of the Lord. If you choose to reduce Christianity to a series of religious, Girgashite works, your life will be consumed in the fervent heat as that heat burns up the Girgashite "earth" and the Girgashite "works that are therein" (v10).
The word "works" in verse 10 was translated from the Greek word ergon, which can literally be translated as "employment". Therefore, this word is referring to the "employment structure" within the Church. Under the current Old-Covenant system, God's remnant are marginalized and left to "waste away" in idleness, like Lazarus by the rich man's gate (Luke 16:20). Because of this, those who don't want to be "idle" feel compelled to sacrifice their New-Covenant convictions and to submit to a religious "employment system" that supposedly validates them as "true believers", without realizing that that "employment system" is destined to destruction in the fire of God's wrath, and that all the works therein shall be exposed as eternally worthless. The Church does many "good" things; it gets some people to pray the prayer of salvation and to read their Bibles, but she is unable to usher those few into unprecedented spiritual growth that ends in True Oneness with God for eternity. Scripture reveals that the Church is like a boat that gets many fish out of the water, but which causes the fish to rot in that boat, because the fish are never taken out of the boat to be eaten by the Lord. In the latter days, however, as the cursed matriarchal Church is judged unto destruction, a new Church shall arise. That Church will come with a mighty evangelistic anointing that will sweep across entire nations, breaking the barriers of "religion" and permeating across the entire spectrum of the human experience. The few that the matriarchal Church "evangelizes" will seem like nothing when compared to the multitudes that shall be truly converted in the coming days, and, not only will there be more "converted", quantity-wise, but the (prophetic) quality and (apostolic) depth of their conversion and (evangelistic) growth will overwhelmingly surpass what the matriarchal Church is currently doing, for it will be God Himself imparting life to His people, with no cursed pastoral "mediators" getting in His blessed way.]
In short, when Melchizedek blessed Abram, he was not praying for "health and wealth" for Abram. Instead, he was praying for Abram to fulfill his calling and potential in life. He was praying for the Face of God's judgments to shine upon Abram until he was molded into the exact likeness of the Most High God.
"17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
[The phrase "beholding as in a glass" was translated from the Greek verb katoptrizomai, which literally means "to look at oneself in the mirror". In other words, God is saying that we are expected to behold the very Face of God when we look at ourselves in the mirror. God's transforming glory comes over us, molding our nature so that our "face" (i.e.- the "open manifestation of our nature") may one day be a mirror image of God's Face. The incompatibilities between His Face and our face are "consumed" away by God's judgment-laden glory as we look into that mirror. It is as if we stood before a portrait until we looked exactly like the face in the portrait.]
After praying for a shining of God's judgments, Aaron's blessing (quoted above) prays for "grace" to fall upon the person (Numbers 6:24). Why? Because, as we have said before, a cloud of grace can only hover over a righteous heart. The sowing of God's judgments leads to a harvest of righteousness (James 3:13-18), and that righteousness draws a cloud of grace over your life. A you grow in your inherent righteousness, a state of permanent peace between God and you ensues. In this shalom peace, you will be spiritually prosperous, and you will reach the fullness of God's calling for your life. According to Isaiah 32:15-17, judgments lead to righteousness, and righteousness leads to peace. This is God's "roadmap to peace", and there is no shortcut for it:
Judgments ==> Righteousness ==> Peace
In the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 (quoted above), the phrase "the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you" speaks of a spiritual sunrise. It speaks of light emerging after a long, dark night. It therefore points to resurrection, to the brightness of life after the darkness of death. God cannot resurrect you unless you are willing to die. God cannot lift you up High unless you are willing to descend to the pit of Sheol.
"1If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth" (Philippians 2:1-10)
[I am amazed at how most Christians quote from this passage as if talking about something "completely external" to them. They gladly speak of what the Anointed One (i.e.- Christ) did for them, and they shout, "Christ did it all for me; all that is left for me to do is to enjoy the blessings!!" (a quote from "Scripture-my-way 3:16"). However, these believers conveniently fail to notice the words "likeminded" and "let this mind be in you" in verses 2 and 5. In other words, verses 6 through 10 are in the context of an "example unto us". Just as Christ paid the price for us, we are also called to do the same for others, wrapped in His Anointing.
In Scripture, the word "Christ" is often associated with suffering for others (Matthew 16:20-21, Luke 24:46, Acts 3:18, Acts 26:23, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 3:18), and it is also used in the context of us suffering for others (Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:5, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 3:12, Hebrews 11:25-26, 1 Peter 2:19-20, 1 Peter 3:17, 1 Peter 4:14, 1 Peter 4:16, 1 Peter 5:1). To be anointed does not only mean to have the power to perform healings and to speak in tongues, it means that you have been prepared for death and burial (Matthew 26:11). The anointing is like a mantle with myrrh wrapped around your body that says, "Body set apart for Sheol". That is the "dark side" of the anointing that most preachers would rather ignore. The word "Christ" means "Anointed One". Therefore, to be a "Christ-ian" is more than just "accepting" the historical Jesus. It means accepting and sharing in His Anointing, with all the consequences that that entails.
In order for Christ's name to be lifted above all name (v9), it was required that He first lower Himself unto death and Sheol (v8). The spiritual universe is like a Pac-man screen. When you go out the "gate" at the bottom of the screen, you then appear coming in from the "gate" at the top of the screen. In the spiritual world, you must go down to be ascended. You must lose to win. You must fall to be raised up. When you do that, you are endowed with the anointing to fill "all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23), because you have been willing to go to "all places" for His sake. Let him who has ears understand what the Lord is saying.]
When you are praying for the Lord to lift up His Face upon someone, you are praying that that person be willing to go through Sheol experiences where the weight of others' iniquity is heaved upon them. You are praying for them to be willing to trust that God shall resurrect them after a long, dark Sheol night. By wishing a "horrendous" Sheol night for the other person, you are actually praying that that person become like Messiah unto death; you are praying for that person to be fully compatible with God, and you are thus praying for that person to enter into true Eternal Life.
Immediately after Melchizedek blessed him (Genesis 14:19-20), Abram went through a dark and dreary Sheol night:
"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1)
[Notice how God declares that He is Abram's "exceeding great reward". To those of you who have chosen to walk in the Melchizedek priesthood, He is your inheritance, and He is your reward (Isaiah 40:10).]
"And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him" (Genesis 15:12)
[The phrase "deep sleep" was translated from the Hebrew word tardemah, which, as we have studied before, speaks of death and Sheol. This is the reason why a "horror of great darkness fell upon" Abram. This was no late-afternoon "siesta".]
"And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces" (Genesis 15:17)
[Notice that the sun "went down", which points to the "sunset of death" that comes before the "sunrise of resurrection life"]
Because of Abram's willingness to go to Sheol and back, God pronounced a word of eternity over him. He declared to Abram that his name would endure forever, which would be physically manifested in a line of descendants that would never disappear.
Therefore, when Melchizedek blessed Abram, he was praying for more than "good luck" for Abram. He was praying for the fullness of God's purposes to be manifested in Abram's life, which included molding judgments from God and a voluntary descent by Abram into Sheol. No wonder the "Paradise" section in Sheol was named "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22).
A true Melchizedek priest in your life is a brother or sister who is more interested in your eternal purpose than in temporal blessings for your life.
In short, when you are truly blessing someone, you are doing 3 things:
In step 3, you are praying for that person not to become so enamored with the grace received (in step 2) that he or she will "take that grace and run". As we have said before, that is equivalent to stunting your growth at age "25". Those who complete the course are those who reach age "30"; that's when you are willing to be made vulnerable unto death, even in the midst of your endowed grace. As you pray for these 3 things over the other person's life, you are praying for them to cross Adam's bridge; you are praying for them to enter into level-2 righteousness and into the fullness of God's Promise.
A true blessing is more than a "good luck charm". The belief in blessings as "lucky charms" is derived from the false understanding that Christianity is a "magical mystery tour" where "ordained wizards" (i.e.- the "ministers") perform magical spiritual tricks on behalf of the "little" people by invoking the powers of the "Wizard in the sky" ("Wits"). Problems magically arise, and problems are magically removed by the "Wits". The "appointed wizards" cast "protection spells" (called "blessings") upon the "populace". In exchange for their magical "covering", these wizards demand that people freely work for them in undying loyalty to them. Their "blessings", therefore, become means of enchantment that enslave people to the "wizards". Oh, how God abhors these wizards! Cursed be these regal clowns! Cursed be the pastors who use God's name to lord themselves over God's people! Cursed be those who get in the way of the New Covenant! Cursed be those who are preventing God's people from being re-clothed in the robe of God's judgments that we lost in the Garden of Eden! Cursed be those who are preventing God's people from talking directly to Him again!
Blessed be those of you who walk in the Melchizedek priesthood, and blessed are those who bless each other in the Spirit, not the flesh.
There is more to say on tithing, but we will share it in the next article...