The tithe (Part 2)
First posted: July 7, 2006
In this article, we continue to study the Scriptural principles behind "tithing" and the "tithe". This is a continuation of an article previously posted.
Focus on justice
The "bread and wine" given by Melchizedek to Abraham in Genesis 14:18 also points to the following passage:
"17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:17-20)
According to Hebrews, Yeshua was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6). Therefore, the passage above reveals the "source" of the "bread and wine" given by Melchizedek priests: their very lives.
"1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." (Hebrews 10:1-2)
"10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:10-12)
Aaronic priests give out of the overflow of their gifts only. Melchizedek priests give themselves. They are willing to be consumed and reduced to ashes, if that is what it takes to enable others into the fullness of their calling.
"35And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly. 38And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. 41And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:35-44)
Notice how verse 36 speaks of the Son of David sitting at God's right hand until God places all of His enemies under His footstool, which points to the Melchizedek priesthood (Psalm 110:1-4, Hebrews 10:12). After that, the Lord speaks of the (Aaronic) "priests" who use their priesthood to serve themselves, devouring widows' houses (v38-40). He then speaks of those who give out of their abundance, as opposed to the widow, who gave out of herself. Her "2 mites" represent the bread and wine given by true Melchizedek priests. In this passage, therefore, the Lord is contrasting Melchizedek priests versus Aaronic priests. Melchizedek priests are like widows "clothed in lack" who are deemed worthless by the world, and Aaronic priests are like ministers "clothed in external glory" who are out to devour the true Melchizedek priests. These Aaronic priests do give out "spiritual things", but they do so out of the abundance of what God has given them. Melchizedek priests, by contrast, give of themselves for the sake of others. And, just as it happened with the widow's offering, the sacrifice offered by Melchizedek priests often goes unnoticed by the eyes of natural man (but not by the eyes of God).
Speaking of things that go unnoticed, most preachers who read from the famous verse in Ephesians 4:11 fail to notice an "interesting little detail":
"9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Ephesians 4:9-11)
Notice that it does not say, "And He gave to some apostleships, to some prophetic mantles, to some evangelistic mantles, and to some pastorships and teacherships". In other words, the gifts of Ephesians 4:11 are not "apostleships" to a select few. The gift is the apostle him or herself. What does this mean? It means that the apostolic fruit in a true apostle emanates from the sacrifices that that apostle has been called to make in his or her own life. An apostle's life is designed by God as a life of prolonged suffering in the lonely desert; this suffering saves others the need to go through the same suffering to obtain the same results. The apostolic fruit that flows out of a true apostle is laden with the apostle's very life. Apostolic fruit is yielded as the apostle consumes him or herself "apostolically". That is the reason why the "apostle" him or herself is the gift, not the "apostolic mantle". Before Yeshua gave "gifts to men" (v11), He gave Himself in sacrifice. He was literally willing to go through hell (v9) in order to enable others. True gifts are laden with the giver's life.
People who work as inventors in the natural realm are apostles by nature. An inventor requires apostolic endurance because he or she must be willing to go through a long and painful trial-and-error phase as the new invention (i.e.- wisdom) is birthed. Once the inventor achieves the "breakthrough", he or she makes it possible for others to understand the new wisdom without the need to go through the same drawn-out process of trial and error. After Edison invented the light bulb, for example, people could quickly learn how to build a practical and durable light bulb without having to go through the years of trial and error that Edison went through, and they even had the option of improving on Edison's ideas without the need to suffer through the frustration that Edison went through.
A true apostle, therefore, causes a "massive reproduction" of apostolic wisdom in those around him or her. And, because that apostolic wisdom is laden with the apostle's very life, it does not only come with "apostolic information"; it comes with "apostolic attitude". In other words, those who come in contact with true apostolic wisdom also come in contact with the apostolic endurance and the apostolic zeal for law, judgments, and truth that made that wisdom possible in the first place. Thus, those who have an "open womb" (i.e.- a willing heart) in their souls will conceive the "apostolic attitude" when they come in contact with apostolic wisdom. They will then become apostles themselves, and they will go on to yield new apostolic wisdom on their own.
A true Melchizedek priest gives of him or herself as he or she gives "bread and wine" to others. If a brother or sister is not willing to go through Sheol in sacrifice for you, he or she is not a Melchizedek priest to you.
"7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12)
[Notice how a true priest has an earnest desire not to be a burden but, rather, a blessing to others (v9). Notice also how a true priest is not interested in people living "nice religious lives" but, rather, lives that are "worthy of God", because a true priest knows that every believer (v11) is called unto the Kingdom and the Glory of God.]
According to Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek was "king of Salem". The name Melchizedek literally means "king of justice". Therefore, Genesis 14:18 is declaring that there is no true peace without justice, a principle that the Lord emphasizes throughout Scripture (Isaiah 32:15-17). The establishment of justice requires the issuing of judgments. Therefore, a truce peacemaker is a person who is willing to release judgments into other people's lives until a true peace can be forged. Through judgments, the peace that is forged will be fully compatible with the truth, which will make it a lasting peace, since truth and righteousness endure forever (Psalm 111:7-8).
A true Melchizedek priest, therefore, will not be willing to sacrifice justice for the sake of "peace". Melchizedek priests are those who want Justice to be king. That is the reason why Melchizedek means "king of Justice". A priest who promotes a peace that bypasses God's purifying judgments is not a Melchizedek priest. A brother or sister who is not willing to pronounce purifying judgments into your life is not a Melchizedek priest to you.
If you read through the first chapters of Genesis, you will notice that Melchizedek appears "out of the blue". There is no reference of him prior to Genesis 14, yet Abram does not hesitate to tithe to him.
As we have shared before, the things of the Spirit are "unfamiliar" or strange to the soul. Thus, if your soul rules over your spirit, you will generally reject the things of the Spirit because they will always seem "strange" to you. The New Covenant is a spirit-centered covenant. Therefore, New-Covenant truth can only be discerned by the Spirit, not the soul. The Old Covenant, by contrast, is a soul-centered covenant, meaning that you can be "in the soul" (not the Spirit) and still recognize Old-Covenant things. The Levitical priesthood was an Old-Covenant priesthood; it was, therefore, possible to recognize a Levitical priest without being in the Spirit. All you had to do was ask for the priest's "birth certificate"; if his certificate said that he was from the tribe of Levi, you would know that he was a Levitical priest. Other "telling signs" would be his "priestly Levitical robe" or the fact that you saw him officially ministering in the temple.
The Melchizedek priesthood, however, is a New-Covenant priesthood, meaning that you can recognize a Melchizedek priest only if you are in the Spirit. You cannot look at a birth certificate. You cannot look at the diploma that is hanging (or not hanging) on the wall. You cannot look at the person's age, gender, race, or social status (Galatians 3:27-28). The only thing you can do is hear what the Holy Spirit says about that person. There is no way around that. If you can see the invisible spiritual signs delineated in Genesis 14, that person is a Melchizedek priest. Otherwise, he or she is not.
Two different kings approached Abram on the day narrated by Genesis 14: the "king of Justice" (Melchizedek) and the "king of Sodom". While Melchizedek is not mentioned until verse 18, the king of Sodom is mentioned 4 times before verse 18 (in verses 2, 8, 10, and 17). Yet, Abram was willing to tithe to the unknown king, and he refused to offer anything to the well-known king. Why? Because he heard both of them speak. And, as he heard the unknown king's words, he discerned "true disinterested priesthood"; by contrast, when he heard the well-known king speak, he discerned "self-centered, people-possessing, adulterous priesthood".
If you are in the Spirit, you will recognize Melchizedek priests, even if they come "out of nowhere", and you will reject Old-Covenant priests, even if they come "out of everywhere".
"25He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. " (John 9:25-34)
As emphasized by the following passage, Melchizedek priests are people with "no human ancestry":
"1For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2To 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; 3Without 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)
Therefore, any "priest" who promotes a hierarchical chain of command is not a Melchizedek priest. If a brother or sister bases the authority of his or her priesthood on his or her human experience or credentials, that person is not a Melchizedek priest. A true Melchizedek priest does not give you a slide presentation of his "religious trajectory" or his "religious lineage" because he bases all of his authority on the truth of his words and the authority of a God who cannot be seen with the natural eye (1 Timothy 6:16, 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Corinthians 3:6-11). Old-Covenant priests are prone to basing their credibility on the historical credentials of the human organization that has "ordained" them. New Covenant priests base their authority on the witness of the Spirit and the truth of their words.
"20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:20-24)
"37And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41I receive not honour from men. 42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5:37-47)
A commandment of God must be obeyed on the weight of God's Truth Nature, regardless of the messenger. God's commandments are as valid when they come from a talking mule as when they come from the most famous of "ministers". A bullet shot at your heart will kill you regardless of whether the gun was shot by a "certified" police officer or by a 10-year-old lad. If you identify Melchizedek priests based on human genealogies, you will never recognize them. They will hide from you like a raven in a moonless night.
"Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness" (1 Kings 8:12)
"These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me" (Deuteronomy 5:22)
Since Melchizedek priests do not emphasize hierarchical levels, traditions, or "experience", they promote a transparent fatherhood. As they minister to you, Melchizedek priests make you aware of the fact that the father of your spirit is God, not them. They are transparent conduits of God's Fatherhood. And, even though you may grow to appreciate their spiritual work on your behalf, you will see each of them as a brother or sister whom you love, not as the "father" who defines your identity or your destiny. If a brother makes you feel like you are a "spiritual nothing" without him, he is not a Melchizedek priest unto you. No church or individual can give you a (legitimate) spiritual last name. The only one who can do that is Father God, the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9, Numbers 16:22).
As shown by the following passage, fatherhood behaves in a strange way in the spirit realm:
"10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me." (Hebrews 2:10-13)
Notice how verse 13 declares that we are Christ's sons and daughters. However, even though Christ is the Son of God, we are never called "Grandsons of God". In fact, the Lord Jesus, who begat us, recognizes us as direct sons of God. He never emphasizes Himself as a permanent intermediary between God and us in our spiritual lineage:
"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17)
This means that a true "spiritual father" transparently channels God's Nature unto his or her children, without demanding any special reverence unto him or herself. Why? Because a true "spiritual father" also sees his or her children as "brethren". Just as he or she is a "father", he or she is also a "brother", recognizing that God is directly above all, without layers of "religious hierarchy" between God and each individual believer. If a brother gets in the way of God's Fatherhood to you, he is not only a false Melchizedek priest; he is also an anti-Christ, and cursed are those who don't get out of God's way!!!
Kings and priests of the Most High God
Notice how Melchizedek emphasizes that God is the "Most High God":
"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 14:18-20)
A true Melchizedek priest emphasizes the highness of God, not his own highness.
"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; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)
[Notice how this passage ends with the phrase "God the Father". This passage, therefore, speaks of a journey that must be completed by all those who want to be called "sons" or "daughters" of God for eternity.]
By declaring God's Name as the Most High Name, Melchizedek priests are saying to all:
Don't aspire to my name; aspire to His Name, for there is no higher name you can aspire to. If you aspire to His Name (i.e.- His Nature) being manifested in you, you will be aspiring to the fullness of your potential. If you aspire to my name, you will fall way, way, way short of your potential, for you were destined to be called "Son of the Most High God", not my son.
As we have shared before, there are 4 "non-Jehovah" names associated with God in the Old Testament, Adonai, El Shaddai, El Elyon, and Elohim, and each of these names corresponds with each of the 4 spiritual faces (Lion, Eagle, Ox, and Man). The name "El Elyon" literally means "Most High God", and it is related to the Ox Face, which is in turn related to the Evangelistic ministry. As we have also shared before, the evangelistic ministry is the one most directly related to "kingship". Therefore, it is no coincidence that Genesis14:18-20 (quoted above) starts with a reference to Melchizedek as "king of Salem", and then proceeds to mention the phrase "Most High God" (El Elyon in Hebrew) 3 times.
Even though Melchizedek was a king, he was also a priest. All of the above reinforces an implicit connection between "kingship" and "priesthood" in Scripture. Notice how the following passages mention kingship and priesthood in the same context:
"5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:5-6)
"7Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage." (Ezra 9:7-8)
"5The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. 6And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest." (Lamentations 2:5-6)
"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" (Hebrews 7:1)
"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:6)
"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10)
"9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:9-11)
[Notice how God calls us a "royal priesthood" in verse 9, while at the same time calling us "strangers and pilgrims" in verse 11. Even though we are kings and priests, we are as "lowly pilgrims" and "reviled strangers" in this world, because our kingdom and our priesthood are not of this natural realm.]
Notice how similar Exodus 19:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9-11 are. The passage in 1 Peter 2:9-11 is written in the context of the New Covenant, in which we are all priests before God (as opposed to the Old Covenant, where only a few have the "privilege" of priesthood). Therefore, the "covenant" referred to in Exodus 19:5 is really the New Covenant. Had the people of Israel aspired to the New Covenant in which you can approach the God of Consuming Fire (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 12:28-29), they would have been turned into a nation of priests. Since they instead chose to stay away from God, at a "safe" Old-Covenant distance (Deuteronomy 5:23-27), the priesthood was assigned only to a few.
Under the Old Covenant, kingship and priesthood must remain separated. Under the New Covenant, kingship and priesthood can be integrated:
"16But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. 17And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: 18And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. 19Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. 20And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. 21And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land." (2 Chronicles 26:16-21)
"16And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. 17And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 18And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. 19And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house. 20Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! 21And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. 22And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour." (2 Samuel 6:16-22)
Notice that, while king Uzziah was struck with leprosy for acting as a priest, king David was blessed. Why? Because king Uzziah wanted to be a priest under the Old Covenant structures. He entered the temple building, which was the physical symbol of Old-Covenant priesthood, and he tried to act as if he were an Aaronic priest. King David, on the other hand, did not enter the temple building. He entered a simple tent that he had pitched for the Ark of the Covenant, which is the symbol of New-Covenant priesthood, since it speaks of approaching God in the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 10:19-20, 6:19, 9:3). David was not pretending to be an Aaronic priest. He was operating under a different paradigm, as symbolized by the simple tabernacle over the Ark of the Covenant. This is why David was able to minister before the fearsome Ark of the Covenant, while Uzziah was unable to minister even in the Holy place, which was not as sacred as the Holy of Holies (the place where the Ark of the Covenant was usually kept).
Notice also that Uzziah and David had different attitudes in their hearts when they tried to minister. While Uzziah's heart had grown proud over "his" accomplishments (2 Chronicles 26:16), David's heart was full of humility. Being the king of Israel, David was not hesitant about leaping and dancing before the Lord like a "vile" servant (2 Samuel 6:16, 22). This reveals an important difference between Old-Covenant and New-Covenant believers: Old-Covenant believers are fixated on "rank" and "hierarchies"; they separate believers into castes, and, once they are convinced that they belong to a given caste, they see others of a lower caste as inferior. They perceive God's favor and grace towards them as "confirmation" that they must surely belong to a "superior" caste. The verses prior to 2 Chronicles 26:16 detail how God had favored Uzziah in a mighty way. This is the reason why Uzziah suddenly believed that he was "inherently superior" to others. Since the Old Covenant is a covenant of external merits, he saw God's favor as a "right deserved", not as "mercy bestowed". By contrast, David saw God's grace towards Him as a sign of God's love, not as a sign of his own "greatness". This is why David reminds Michal (an Old-Covenant believer) that God had chosen him to be a king, even when he was a simple "shepherd boy" neglected by his brothers and by his own father (v21, Psalm 78:70, 1 Samuel 16:1-13). David saw his kingship as a sign of God's grace and mercy upon weak man, not as a sign of his own "inherent superiority" over others.
"3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:3-9)
[According to the introduction to Psalm 8 in the original Hebrew text, this psalm was written by David]
Notice how David attributes the potential of exaltation to "man" in general and to the "son of man" (v4), not to himself or to a "privileged and superior few". In the Spirit, he realized that, for some wondrous reason, our weak human insignificance draws the attention of Almighty God, and, even in our human frailty, He desires to exalt us, "crowning us with glory and honor" (v5). David saw every human being as a potential crowned king unto God. He, therefore, saw his own kingship, and the kingship of all men, as a sign of God's mercy. He knew that God bestows mercy upon those whom He wishes, meaning that no one can claim His grace as a right. Therefore, when the God of Israel bestows His grace upon us, our attitude must be one of gratitude, not one of pride, for the potential for glorification is inherent in all of frail mankind, not in a "superior few". New-Covenant believers like David understand this; Old-Covenant believers like Uzziah don't.
Notice that, after David ministered before the Ark of the Covenant, he gave bread, wine, and blessing:
"18And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. 19And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house." (2 Samuel 6:18-19)
This shows that David was behaving as a Melchizedek priest (Genesis 14:17-20), not as an Aaronic priest. Notice also that he blessed all the people, every single one, both women and men. This emphasizes the fact that Melchizedek priests are New-Covenant priests who see the potential of exaltation in all of mankind. This also certifies the fact that Melchizedek priests are "givers by nature". After David ministered before the Lord, he did not come out of the tabernacle expecting the people to give him praise or possessions. Instead, he came out to give. In that bread, wine, and blessing, he was freely giving of what he had been freely given while before the Ark of the Covenant (Matthew 10:7-8), and he was giving without being a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35). Notice also that David was not stingy in his giving; he gave an entire cake (not a tiny piece) of bread, a good piece of flesh, and an entire flagon (not a tiny cup) of wine. Melchizedek priests are not stingy givers, because they are willing to give their very lives so that the purposes of God in others may be fulfilled.
Old-Covenant kings cannot be priests because they have not lifted their eyes to behold El Elyon, the Most High God. Because of this, they fail to understand that any human, earthly height or greatness is as nothing when compared to the Height of El Elyon. Why? Because earthly greatness is finite, and El Elyon's greatness is infinite. Any student of mathematics will tell you that any number divided by infinity equals zero, even if that number is 100 trillion billion (for those who are picky about "appropriate" usage of math terminology, the limit of A/x as x goes to infinity equals 0, regardless of the value of A, if A is a finite, real number). Old-Covenant kings cannot be priests of the Most High God, because they don't know Him. New-Covenant kings, however, can be priests of El Elyon because they do know Him, and they call all men to be joined unto Him. They see a direct line of communication that stretches from lowly, "insignificant" man all the way up to the Most High God. They can act as true Melchizedek priests for others because they know the inherent "glorification" potential in human weakness. New-Covenant kings and priests can see their own kingly, glorious potential, and they can see the kingly, glorious potential in others, so much so that they are willing to shed themselves in priestly intercession for others.
Fellow believer, the next time you hear a preacher speak of "kings" and "priests" as separate categories of people within the "Body of Christ", you can rest assured that you are listening to an Old-Covenant king or priest who has yet to know the Most High God. Over such men looms a sky of bronze that prevents them from peering into the Holy of Holies. Under such men lies an earth of iron that prevents them from seeing their lowly fellow man as a mighty tree that can spring forth from the earth and reach unto the Most High God.
"And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron" (Deuteronomy 28:23)
Old-Covenant kings and priests shall not inherit with God, and they shall not reign with Him. On the other hand, New-Covenant believers (who are both kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek) shall inherit all things, and they shall reign as kings with the Most High God forever.
"19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." (Hebrews 6:19-20)
"15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. 19And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Revelation 11:15-19)
[The 24 elders (v16) represent the 24 groups of Levitical priests (1 Chronicles 24:1-19), who were a shadow of the 24 facets of spiritual priesthood. Therefore, this passage once again speaks of kingship and priesthood in the same context. Notice also that the "Ark of the Covenant" was seen in His temple (v19), which points to Melchizedek priesthood and to the open-heaven connection that New-Covenant believers have with God. This open-heaven connection is being forged in the Church through 2-witness believers like you who are willing to shed their lives in green-horse sacrifice for others (Revelation 11:7-13).]
"8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:8-10)
[A true Melchizedek priest is willing to be "slain" in order to redeem others, redeeming them unto the Most High God, not unto his or her earthly self (v9). Such priests are the "kings and priests" who shall reign on the Earth.]
There is more to say on tithing, but we will share it in the next article...