Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are Tithes a New Testament Mandate?

I am going to start off stating my opinion to that question. Are we meant to obey the Old Testament mandate to give to God 10% of our income? YES! I believe that in the Church we should be practicing this Old Testament principle. I am believing it stronger and stronger these past days. I am coming to be aware that it is more deeply spiritual than I have ever imagined, and I pray that it will become that for you too. I have been studying Hebrews, and I came across Hebrews 7 in my study. I commend the whole chapter for you to read. If there is any question that Hebrews belongs in the Bible then this chapter should clear things up for you. It is an incredibly eloquent argument that Jesus is our High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. The story of Melchizedek is very cool. Abraham gave Him a tenth of the spoils of war. He was the King and priest of Salem which would become Jerusalem.

It says his lineage was not able to be traced. and so he is the quintessential priest. Some even believe that he is one of those mysterious Biblical characters that might be a pre-incarnate Christ. I am one of those people. I believe that this passage at the very least links Melchizedek and Jesus in their eternal roles as priest, but I do think the passage goes further and that the character here is further presented as a pre-incarnate Christ. I was struck by 7:8 mostly that says,"In this case mortal men (Levitical Priests) receive tithes, but in that case one (Melchizedek=Jesus) receives them of whom it is witnesses that he lives on." Verse 17 also points out that Jesus is, "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek". Meaning Jesus is now and forever more will be a priest! He is also, as Hebrews so clearly shows, performed our atonement "once for all", and He continues to perform the role of priest. So our atonement is an ongoing thing that will be eternal. We also know from Hebrews that the temple that was on earth is only a shadow and copy of the true temple and tabernacle in heaven. Jesus performs his priestly ritual continually in heaven, and sits down at the right hand of the Father. We will know him by His scars. So he stands in the Holy of Holies in Heaven to perform the office of the Priesthood perpetually and to continue to make atonement for our sins until the day of the redemption of our bodies. As the Perpetual Priest He also performs other roles like receiving the tithe. Now a logical question comes up why would he need the tithe? The Levitical tithe was received for the livelihood of the priests. Jesus doesn't need the tithe to survive. We can draw from this and many other passages that he receives the tithe for three specific reasons
1. He receives the Tithe as worship. If he is perpetual priest he is also Holy, Innocent, Undefiled, Separate, and Exalted above heaven. The act of worship is calling someone greater, as it says Abraham did to Melchizadek. He saw him as greater and thus his tithe was given. As Hebrews 7:7 says, "the lesser is blessed by the greater", and make no mistake Christ is greater than us, so only he has the right to bless us, and only we have the duty to worship him. Our tithe is a way to worship him as High Priest. We give to him because in that act of giving something of value to Him, it shows the world, us, and Him that we believe that he is greater.
2. The Tithe displays His greatness to the world. As High Priest Jesus is perpetually standing in the gap and making intercession, advocating, and pleading to the father for us.  He has this office forever! He will continue in it. Hebrews 9:12 describes how Jesus entered the Most Holy place in heaven making redemption with his own blood once and for all. Our tithe to Him is not necessary He does not need it, but it displays His greatness as the one and only all sufficient atoning sacrifice for sins. It is a sign of his High Priestly role to a lost world needing redemption and atonement. It is first a sign and remembrance to me as I give it, of what he has done as my High Priest. Second it is a sign to the world of what he has done as High Priest, and third it is a sign to Him and to Heaven of his great role as Perpetual Priest!
3. The Tithe is a sacrifice. As it was in the Old Testament the Priests took portions of real animal and food from the sacrifices and lived off of them. Jesus doesn't live off our tithe, but he does actually/spiritually in the Church. If the tithe is given to Him and used by the Church here on earth His real spiritual body is benefiting.  If we as a Church (universal) tithed there would be no lack in the ministry initiatives that we could do. I crunched the numbers for you. If the average salary of a churchgoer were $30,000 then the annual tithe would be $3,000 if the average church of 200 people tithed that portion of their salary they would take in $600,000 a year. That is actually a low number because the median income level of the City of Columbia, where I live, is $40,000 and the median income of the San Francisco Bay area where we just moved from is $80,000. The Church I came from had a weekly attendance of 450-500. That would be a $3,600,000 yearly intake. The numbers are really not the important thing, the important thing is that the giver of tithes makes a sacrifice. It is not easy to take 10% of your income away before you even touch it, but it is joyful (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) because you are worshiping a good and faithful High Priest!

The tithe is not the issue here it is the perpetual work of Christ as High Priest! Jesus continually performs the priestly duties because HE LIVES as Priest forever. He lives now as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. So in His scars he continues to perform all atoning work. It is a present progressive act that he does on our behalf.
Jesus receives our tithe as a sign to us, to the world, and to He Himself of the atonement that he perpetually makes for us. The tithe is a sign and witness to a world that, Jesus, as the Great High Priest is greater than we could have ever imagined. His continual life is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. So how could we withhold something that makes Jesus so great? Every time I am presented with such truth I have a deep desire to worship Him for His greatness. King of Heaven Below can assist you in worshiping the High Priest!

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