06 October, 2008

The LORD Is At Hand, And Will Provide

Lately I've been feeling distant from God. I "feel" him when I pray and worship, but there's a constant nearness of God that I've been missing for the past few days. Tonight I reluctantly opened my Bible to Jeremiah 16, wondering if I should be reading something more emotional to get that "nearness" feeling back. But this chapter was next on my list, so I read it.

Then I ran into verses 10-12.

“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.
God pushed a button.

I'm not disciplined with tithing, and God showed me that I've been making my tuition bill a financial idol. I haven't forgotten to tithe, but I've pushed it back "until this bill gets paid." Um. The point of tithing is giving God the FIRST fruits of my labor, not the dregs. *cough*

Soooooo, maybe I've been feeling distant from God because I'm not completely focused on him? DUH.

Tonight I sorted through months of pay stubs and figured out what I should have tithed and stuck a check in my Bible for next Sunday. But I found something among all those pay stubs. I found a paycheck that more than covered what I should have been tithing...so...it kinda drove home the point that what I have is not mine. It's God's, and I'm foolish to think that I can keep what is rightfully his. He provides, even for tithing.

2 comments:

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD said...

Friend, May I offer an alternative interpretation of Malachi for your study.

From: Tithing is not a Christian Doctrine
www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Malachi 3 is the Most Abused Tithing Text in the Bible. The “whole” tithe never was supposed to go to the Temple!

A. Malachi is Old Covenant and is never quoted in the New Covenant to validate tithing (Lev. 27:34; Neh. 10:28-29; Mal. 3:7; 4:4).

B. In Malachi 3:10-11 tithes are still only food 1000 years after Leviticus 27:30-34 and Numbers 18:21-28.

C. Malachi’s audience had willingly reaffirmed the Old Covenant (Neh.10:28-29). The blessings and curses of tithing are identical to and inseparable from those of the entire Mosaic Law. The rain in Deuteronomy 28:12, 23-24 and Leviticus 26:1-4 is only obtained by obedience to all 613 commandments. Galatians 3:10 (quoting Deu 27:26) “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Trying to earn God’s blessings through tithing only brings curses for failure to keep all of the law. See also Galatians 3:19.

D. Beginning in 1:6 “you” in Malachi always refers to the dishonest priests and not the people (also 2:1-10; 2:13 to 3:1-5): “Even this whole nation of you --priests” (3:9). In 1:13-14 the priests had stolen tithed animals vowed to God. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 priests had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe. God’s curses on the priests are ignored by most tithe-teachers (1:14; 2:2 and 3:2-4).

E. Point #12 of the essay. The Levitical cities must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10. Most tithe-recipients lived outside of Jerusalem.

F. The 24 courses of Levites and priests must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3. Normally only 2% of the total Levite and priest work force served at the temple one week at a time. Subtract wives, males under the age of 30 and daughters. Therefore 2% did not require all of the tithe. See 1 Chron 23-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5.

G. Nehemiah 10:37-39 is the key to understanding Malachi 3:10, The people were commanded to bring their tithes, not to the temple, but to the nearby Levitical cities. Verse 38 says that the priests were with the Levites in the Levitical cities when they received the tithes.

H. According to Nehemiah 13:5, 9 the “storehouse” in the Temple was only several rooms. The real “storehouses” were in the Levitical cites per Nehemiah 10:37b-38. Only the Levites and priests normally brought tithes to the Temple (10:38). Two rooms in the Temple were far too small to contain the tithe from the entire nation and 98% of the Levites and priests lived too far away to eat from them.

Therefore, Malachi 3:10’s “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” only makes contextual sense if it is only commanding dishonest priests to replace the tithes they had removed from it or had failed to bring to it.

While the 3:10 of the Law in Malachi is so important to tithe-teachers they ignore the 3:10 of the Gospel in Galatians and 2nd Corinthians. Perhaps those wanting to enforce the 3:10 Law of Malachi should also enforce the 3:10 Law of Numbers. They share the same context.

Christian giving is freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful, regular and motivated by love. That is enough to provide the needs of the Church.

Rae said...

Dearest,

We are not under the law. And a tithe is meant to be a blessing both to you and from you to the Lord. He never meant it to be turned into the kind of religiosity that many have made it out to be. Not tithing isn't a sin. God knows your heart. Not tithing isn't displeasing to God, the attitude of your heart is pleasing to God. And if you not tithing produces the correct attitude then God is pleased. As gentiles we're not called to tithe. It was a commandment held to the Jewish people, before Christ. And as such we are not under the Law of Moses. Jesus freed not only them from that law but us as well.

What about the verses (i'm tired and don't remember where they are so i'm going to paraphrase) in one of the apostolic letters the apostle(yes, very vague but i do have a point) tells his readers that it is a false doctrine to teach the gentiles that they have to follow the Law of Moses...And didn't god look down on the Pharisees who tithed even a tenth of their spices?

God loves a cheerful giver and the heart that rejoices in giving is blessed. And the heart that rejoices in not, for whatever reason, is blessed as well...(we're once again brought back to the attitude(s) of the heart.) If I, having no job to speak of, don't tithe so that I can scrounge funds for college am I sinning? Or the mother that is raising 3 kids and barely has enough money to make ends meet, is she sinning to save that money for her family? The answer is a resounding NO. Yes, your circumstances are different but you bear unnecessary guilt over a crime you haven't even committed. Be at peace love. God is with you and loves you always. He knows the inner workings of your heart and judges you by them. Do not let someone heap ashes upon your head when you have been declared free, forgiven and cleansed.

Hope that helps...I'm really tired so I can't be 100% sure that I said that the way I wanted to.

Blessings love!