Today, Western nations are the wealthiest people in all history and yet we are plagued with financial troubles. Why?
WHY should the most universal bad news that strikes home to nearly everybody be the financial worries that seem to plague us all? It doesn't make sense. When you stop to think about it, never in the history of this world were any nations so rich as the English-speaking, the Western European nations and Japan are today. Yet nearly everyone of us is engaged in a constant struggle to make ends meet. Financial worries seem constantly to bear us down — rob us of real happiness and joy. Why should this be?
A Cause for Every Effect
There is a reason. You can be free from financial worry. Let me explain to you something now that you probably didn't know about your income. If there is anything people are jealous of, it is the money that they earn. They usually work hard for it, and they want full freedom in deciding for themselves what they're going to do with it. People say, "What I earn is mine. I can do what I please with it." But is the money that you earn really your own? Don't be too sure. Listen to facts about your income you probably didn't know. What you earn is not yours. The man is mistaken who says, "What I do with the money that I earn is nobody's business. I produce it; it belongs to me." What you earn by work performed, by services rendered, from investments made, is not yours — not any part of it — that is, not until — and I will have to explain that "until." Your Maker who gives you the very air you breathe tells you that it all belongs to him, not to you. But didn't you earn it? Didn't you produce it? Not exactly. Everything produced — money and the things that money can buy — comes out of the earth. And you didn't produce the earth. God created that. You merely applied certain energy in thinking and in physical action to that which God created and owned. And where did the energy that you expended come from? You didn't create or supply that. You merely utilized what God created and supplied. God created even your thinking processes. God Almighty created not only matter, but all force and energy. And God set them in motion in the laws of physics and chemistry. He created the human mind. He supplies even the energy that is used in thinking and acting. Yes, all has come from God. And it is God who sustains, who preserves in motion, guides and directs all the forces and energies. And so God is not merely a Creator of the long ago. God is the sustaining, directing, living Ruler over all today. And so, it's a simply fact, after all, that it was God's labor of original thinking, planning and creating, and of continuous sustaining and directing, that really produces all. And, therefore, God's claim to ownership of all that you have thought that you produced or earned is valid. It is a prior claim to yours. God Almighty says in Psalm 24:1-2: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." And these inspired words are repeated in the New Testament in I Corinthians 10:26. God Almighty owns this earth and everything that exists or lives upon it. "Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine," claims God in Job 41:11. Now, turn to Deuteronomy 10:14. "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, [and] all that therein is." And in Exodus 19:5 God says, "...all the earth is mine." "If I were hungry [says God in Psalm 50:12], I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." And then in verse 10, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Yes, even the money, even the gold and the silver on this earth. In Haggai 2:8 we read, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts." Dare any man deny this claim of God? God's claim stands. Admit, then, your income belongs to God. It's his to do with as he wills, not as you please.
Your Reward for Your Labor
But God is a God of love. He knows your needs. God is concerned about you — about all of us. And, therefore, God has made a law respecting that portion of his wealth that your thinking — your labor — has extracted and worked upon. Now, get this fixed thoroughly in your mind. Your wages, your salary, your profit, your income belong to God, not to you. Probably you never thought of it that way or realized this before. This may seem like a new idea to you. But it's not an idea at all. It's a fact. And so, God, the rightful owner of your income, has made a law respecting its disposal and its use. God's law respecting what you earn is in fact a deal that he has made with you. He allows you to work on his earth, to use a part of the earth, what is in it or on it, its forces and energies, and to extract from it food, materials, supplies, metals, wood, oils, coal or whatever. Or to work with that which others have extracted from the earth, in manufacturing or distributing, or selling, buying, investing — whatever may be your occupation, job, or your profession. And so, whether you have realized it or not, you have been working in partnership with God. The farmer or the gardener may plow, plant seed and expend his labor in raising food. But who supplied the soil? Who created the living processes that make the seed sprout and grow? Who sends the rain or produces water for irrigation? Who set the sun in the sky and causes it to shine and to warm the earth? Who causes the plant to drink out of the soil the minerals, the elements, and to grow into the vegetable, the grain or the fruit? Did you perform this part of the business of raising the food that you eat? When you sit down and really think, you shall see that God supplies about nine parts of everything that man makes or produces. And man's thinking, planning and working supply only about one part. But God does not take nine tenths of the proceeds of the income. He doesn't take even eight tenths, or seven, or even three, or even two tenths. No, God is generous when we come to really understand. God has reserved for his use only one little tenth of what is produced out of his earth through his forces and his energies, and with your brain that he devised and he created, and with your hands and your labor. God takes only one tenth. And after you have been honest in paying God's tenth to God's chosen representative as God has directed, then — and not until then — God has decreed that the other nine tenths legally become yours. That is God's law — not generally known today, is it? When we get our thinking straight, when we get to understanding, when we stop to realize how much of what we have was provided by God, then we realize how generous, how solicitous for our welfare God really is. But that's only part of the story. What does God want with that first tenth? And why does he want it anyway?
How Does God Use It?
God requires that small fraction of what is produced out of his earth that he created for the purpose of disseminating to the people of this world his message of the way of life that will free them from fears and from worries, that will give them peace of mind and happiness, that will give them joy, success and life eternal. Yes, even that tenth that God withholds for his own use is expended for human good, to make life worthwhile and to make people happy; for proclaiming his gospel of peace, of happiness and of joy and salvation; for letting people know that God will heal them when they're sick, that God will deliver them from every trial and trouble, supply their every need, guide them and direct them, give them wisdom, show them the way, give them eternal life. This unhappy world is starving for that knowledge. This world is under a curse because it has robbed God of his money, of his wealth, and, thereby, has withheld from itself the knowledge of why this world is now in chaos, why it has had so many wars, why there is not real peace, why it finds life empty and fruitless, full of suffering and unhappiness, frustration and death. God's laws are for man's good. Obedience to God's laws brings blessings. But when we violate God's laws, we bring curses upon ourselves. Since whole nations are under a curse — because of lack of understanding, as well as for disobedience to the laws of God — it's certainly time that we opened our Bibles and began to study honestly, diligently, prayerfully, exactly what the Almighty has declared on this much — misunderstood subject.
What Do You Mean — Tithe?
But first, before looking III the New Testament teaching to see whether or not Christians must "tithe," let me make clear just what God does mean by this word tithe. It's an old English word, commonly used three or four hundred years ago. Today, it is seldom used, except in this scriptural connection. The word tithe means "tenth." A tithe of anything is a tenth part of it. It is well known that the ancient nation Israel was required to tithe, that is, to pay in one tenth of income. But the matter of to whom each Israelite paid this tenth, which tenth was paid, why and for what purpose, seems to confuse a great many today. And the New Testament teaching for Christians about tithing is understood by only a very few. God said in essence to ancient Israel in Leviticus 26 and in Deuteronomy 28: "If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments ...then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." God Almighty promised that obedience to his laws would mean prosperity. Do you know that if you could just believe him, you would be more prosperous, you'd have fewer troubles, you'd be happier, you'd find life more worthwhile? Millions of you believe in God, yet you still do not believe him. You don't believe because you don't put into practice the laws of God as taught in and through the Bible. In the Bible, God reveals to man that he never has given to man the whole of what he produces and earns. The first tenth of all that you produce from the ground — of your wages, your salary, your profit, your income — that first tenth remains wholly to the Eternal. And that he has reserved for himself, for his holy and his spiritual use. After man has paid to God that first tenth, which belongs only to God and which never belonged to the man, then the remaining nine tenths God gives to man. It's a good deal like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and the first sin. The garden was beautiful beyond description — just one tree in all the garden, however, God reserved for himself. That remained God's. And that God never gave to Adam and Eve. That they had no right to touch or to use. All the rest God gave to them, but they were not satisfied with what was their — sample though it was. Filled with greed to possess all, they reached out and they took the fruit of that one forbidden tree that belonged to God and was not theirs. And that was stealing — the very first human sin. And today, the same Satan who deceived Mother Eve has deceived this whole world into believing that all of each man's farm, or each man's business, or each man's money or property, or whatever he may have belongs to him — that the whole of a man's income is his own. The divine and original truth of ownership has been hidden from the people through the deceptions of the god of this world.
What God Does with the Tithe
But why does God retain for himself the ownership of that first tenth — that tithe — of your income? Here, again, comes the truth that man would never know and could not find out except by God's revelation to man. God has a great purpose he is working out here below, and he reveals it in his Word, his revelation, the Bible. For the carrying out of God's holy purpose, in placing mankind upon this earth, God has always had a priesthood — a ministry — representing him on this earth, serving him, carrying out his mission for mankind. In the dim antiquity of patriarchal times, God's high priest, his representative on earth, was Melchizedek. During the national dispensation of Israel under the covenant made at Sinai, the tribe of Levi constituted the ministry of God, known as the Levitical priesthood. And then later, when Jesus Christ arose from the dead, he ascended to heaven as the living high priest. And today he calls into his true Church those he intends to use, as his true representatives in a darkened and a Satan — deceived world, to carryon his plan. Today, the Melchizedek priesthood is restored in Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 7). It costs money to carry on the work of God. And so in order to provide for the financing of God's ministry, God has, from the very beginning, retained for himself the first tenth of the income of every human being on earth. The ownership of that first tenth of income is God's. How then can you pay that tenth to God? Since you can't see God, you can't go to God's throne up in heaven, God instructs you in his revealed Word to pay it to his Church as his representative, just as a collector of some business firm to whom you pay a debt represents the company to whom you owe that particular amount of money. Once paid, so far as you are concerned you have paid God's tithe to God. The question now is, What does God do with it? Why does he want it? God uses it for his ministry, for carrying on his work. The nature of God's ministry on earth has changed with changing circumstances. Not much is revealed as to how God's ministry was carried on in patriarchal times. We know Melchizedek was then the high priest. All we know of those days of the dim, distant antiquity is that the tithes were paid to Melchizedek — a divine being — for the service of God's ministry for that time. But beginning with Moses, God formed ancient Israel as a civil nation and also as a church, as you read in Acts 7:38. Between Moses and Jesus Christ, under the Sinaitic covenant, God's ministry was purely national. It was for ancient Israel alone. There was no gospel being preached to the world. It was purely material, not spiritual. As a church or a congregation, Israel was given a constant round of physical ceremonies and rituals — animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, carnal ordinances (see Hebrews 9:10) — that were of a material and not of a spiritual nature. Consequently, the ministry in ancient Israel was one of ministering to the Israelites only. There was no spreading of the gospel. The ministry, rather, was largely a matter of physical labor, pertaining to animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, administering the different washings, physical ordinances and rituals. For this service, God himself selected his ministers. The people had no choice as to who their ministers were to be. For this service, God took one whole tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel — the tribe of Levi. And during these years, from Moses to Jesus Christ, God himself paid his Levitical priests by turning over to them all of his tithes.
The Work of God Today
Now, today, we are in the age of the New Testament Church — the New Testament gospel dispensation — and today the Levitical priesthood is gone, and Jesus Christ is head of the Church, and high priest. Today, all true ministers of Jesus — Christ are called by a special spiritual call from God, through his Holy Spirit through and into his Church — not by flesh birth, not by self-desire to become a minister, not by selection or by appointment or by vote of the people. Jesus Christ came as God's messenger bearing a spiritual message from God to man — that message of his gospel, the good news of the coming kingdom of God, the world tomorrow, a kingdom of immortals that human flesh and blood can never enter. One must be born into the kingdom of God. And today Christ's commission to all of his true ministers is this: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [the good news of the kingdom of God]..." (Mark 16:15). "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..." (Matt. 28:19). And for our day now: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [of this age, this world] come" (Matt. 24:14). Today the ministry is a spiritual ministry — a ministry of prophecy, a ministry of salvation, a ministry of warning. Today it is not physical and national; it is spiritual and individual. It is not for a single nation, but it is a witness to all nations. Today, in these critical, chaotic days approaching the end of an age, that carrying on of God's true message is a worldwide effort that must reach millions of people, and quickly, for "the night cometh, when no man can work." Today, Jesus Christ's true ministry is a huge undertaking. It requires not the mere financing of personal needs of a few ministers, but the employing of tremendous facilities for proclaiming the world-shaking warning, for preaching the gospel of the kingdom into all the world for a witness to all nations. Today, God has provided for the financing of his powerful ministry by the same system that he has used through all ages and dispensations — his tithing system. That is God's way as it always has been. In I Corinthians 9 the apostle Paul is inspired of God to instruct us that God has ordained that the New Testament gospel ministry of Christ shall be similarly financed as the Levitical priesthood of the Sinai tic covenant was, by the tithes and the freewill offerings of the people. Speaking of the Levitical priesthood, which was supported by the tithes of the people, it is written: "Even so [by the tithes] hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel" (I Cor. 9:14). This makes the tithing system binding in the New Testament, carried over from the Old Testament Levitical priesthood. Tithing is further made a New Testament financing system for the Church in the priesthood book of the New Testament. In Hebrews 7 the first four verses show how Abraham paid tithes to the Melchizedek priesthood. Verses 5 to 11 explain how the tithes were paid in ancient Israel to the Levitical priesthood, according to the tithing law. Verse 12 says plainly, "For the priesthood being changed [from the Old Testament Levitical priesthood to the New Testament Church], there is made of necessity a change also of the law [including tithing]." So that tithes today are paid into the Church of which Jesus Christ is head and high priest. God's own financing system is making possible this very work of God, proclaiming to the world the gospel that Christ preached, on the worldwide program The World Tomorrow. Hundreds are writing in and asking, "How can you send out this powerful broadcast to the world without ever asking for money?" I hope you have noticed that we never do. And they ask, "How can you publish a magazine of worldwide circulation without subscription price?" And the plain, simple,. straightforward answer is, This is the work of God supported by God's tithe.
Will You Rob God?
Now notice the blessings for obedience and for honesty in money matters with God, and the curses for neglect and for disobedience. God says to us through Malachi: "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed thee? [and God answers] In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation" (Mal. 3:8-9). Continuing in Malachi 3, verse 10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." That is God's promise. Why don't you put God to that" test? Why don't you prove him as he challenges you to do, and to see if he doesn't increase your income so that your own nine tenths that God gives you will be larger than your whole ten tenths of income now, that your financial worries will finally be ended? "But I can't afford to tithe," complains one man. God's answer is, Can you afford to steal from God? Pay God his tenth. Watch God increase both his tenth and your nine tenths. That's the way to have your bills paid, to get out of debt, to be free from financial worries. Tithing is a financial law. And yet, notwithstanding, the biggest blessing of all is the spiritual blessing. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." And that too is a law. If your treasure is in this world's amusements and its pleasures, if your money — pardon me, I mean God's money — is being spent on yourself and your selfish desires, even including your needs, then your whole heart and your interest is in this world, this material world, and not in the kingdom of God. Jesus also said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these [material needs] shall be added unto you." Seek God, and you'll prosper. The way to grow spiritually and to enjoy the glorious happiness of God's grace is to put God's tithe and your offerings, your treasure, into God's work. Seek with all your heart the kingdom of God, and financial troubles will vanish, your life will become happy, full and abundant with assurance of life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.