HERE is another eye-opening article on a much misunderstood subject. Some ask, "Wasn't tithing just for the Jews of a long-dead past?" Others, "Wasn't tithing done away?" Or, "Was it a form of national taxation in ancient Israel?" Or, "Was it to supply material needs to the poor?" In the November-December number we gave you an article explaining the principle of tithing. In the present article, we give you the NEW Testament teaching for Christians — tracing the subject from the beginning. You'll find this article interesting, enlightening, plain!
How should God's work be financed? Does God have a definite system? Is "tithing" obligatory in NEW Testament times? Or has God left us to our, own devices — for churches to resort to the old — fashioned oyster suppers and ice cream socials, or to bazaars, entertainments, dances and church movie shows to raise money? Or did God perhaps leave it for each one to give what he feels like — if he feels like giving it? Did Christ intend His specially-selected and called ministers to be directed and controlled by boards of lay church members not called of Christ to the ministry? Or did Christ Himself ordain a system providing for His work, leaving His true called ministers, like prophets of old, free to serve God Alone?
A Stern PROPHECY for Today!
Let me repeat briefly a stern prophecy for our day — a WARNING from God to 20th century America and Britain! To us, God says: "I will come near to you in judgment... Even from the day of your fathers ye have gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them... Ye are cursed with a curse: for YE HAVE ROBBED ME, even this whole nation" (Malachi 3:5-9). That's not a message for ancient Israel. It's a prophecy, warning America and Britain today! Other prophecies scattered all thru both Old and New Testaments show the JUDGMENT to be sent on us, for robbing God among other sins — the coming invasion and utter defeat in atomic-rocket World War III! But why? "But ye say," continues the Eternal's warning, "Wherein have we robbed Thee?" And God replies, "In TITHES And OFFERINGS! " Notice, we are not robbing Him in tithes alone — but also by neglecting to put into His work OFFERINGS besides. But we've been taught tithing was done away — merely for Israel of old. It's about time we got back to the Faith once delivered! Is there a definite financing plan ordained in the New Testament?
God Working Out of PURPOSE
Man was placed on earth for a purpose. And always, from the very beginning, God has had on earth a PRIESTHOOD — a ministry representing Him, making known His revelation, His will to man, carrying out God's 'mission. It does cost money to carry on Christ's ministry. And today with super-powered facilities of radio and printing press, of rapid transportation to every part of the world — facilities making it possible to reach vast masses over great distances in short time — the carrying forth of God's LAST WARNING MESSAGE to a deceived world is a herculean task of gigantic proportions requiring large sums of money. Has not God, is His wisdom, provided for this financing? And in such manner that His true called ministers may be free to serve Him alone, carrying His message BOLDLY? If so, the plan will be revealed in God's Word.
Christ's Office, NOW!
It is well recognized that the people of Israel, during Old testament times, were required to pay tithes. That is, one tenth of income — whether livestock, grain, or money. But the NEW Testament teaching on tithing is not generally understood. Yet the subject is mentioned many places in the New Testament. But, since it is a priesthood subject, the financing of Christ's ministry, it's well to look first at the priesthood Book of Hebrews. You hear a great deal of a crucified Christ — much preaching about a dead Christ. But you hear almost nothing about the Message He brought from God, and even less about the function of the resurrected living Christ of TODAY! The Book of Hebrews reveals the Christ of the Twentieth Century — the work and office of our Christ TODAY — Christ the High Priest of God! And it contains GOD'S INSTRUCTION for financing the ministry of Christ! The 7th chapter is the tithing chapter. Speaking of the Christian HOPE of eternal life (which hope is Jesus Christ); we are told, beginning verse 19, chapter 6; this HOPE. (Christ) has entered "within the veil" — that is, the very throne of God in heaven — "whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an HIGH PRIEST for ever, after the order of Melchisedec."
The NEW Testament Priesthood
Jesus Christ IS HIGH PRIEST now. Let's understand it. Jesus of Nazareth came as a Messenger, sent from God, bearing a MESSAGE to man. His MESSAGE is His GOSPEL — the Gospel of Jesus Christ — the Good News of the KINGDOM OF GOD. After finishing His mission as Messenger , Jesus took, on Himself the mission of Saviour, paying, in our stead the penalty of our sins by His death on the cross. But it requires, a living Saviour to impart to us the gift of eternal life! So God raised Jesus, by a RESURRECTION. And thereupon Jesus ascended to heaven, to the very throne of God, where He sat down and continues today as our Everlasting HIGH PRIEST. That is His office, now. Soon He shall assume still another office, returning to earth in all the power and glory of God, as KING of kings — continuing His priesthood office as Lord of Lords. It is in His office as High Priest that Jesus sits as living Head of The Church of God, the true Body of Christ in this age. He is High Priest for this and all succeeding ages. And as High Priest He holds a definite rank — a rank that outranks every priestly office — "After the order of Melchisedec" or, in the plainer English of the Moffatt translation, "with the rank of Melchisedec." And who is Melchisedec? This is one of the intriguing mysteries of the Bible! Suffice it to say here Melchisedec was the High Priest of God during patriarchal times. And Christ occupies the same office now, holding the same rank. But the Mosaic dispensation was a purely materialistic, fleshly dispensation. The GOSPEL was not preached in Israel, nor did their ministry carry it to other nations. Israelites formed a flesh-born congregation, not a Spirit-begotten church. The ministry consisted of rituals, carnal (fleshly) ordinances, substitute animal sacrifices and burnt offerings. This required of the priests much hard physical labor. During those years a different priesthood of lower rank was in office — mere human rank, vastly inferior to the spiritual and divine rank of Melchisedec and of Christ. The priests were the tribe of Levi. It was called the Levitical Priesthood.
A Tithe-Receiving Priesthood
Yet this lower-level priesthood had to be financed. God's financing Plan from dim antiquity, thru the Melchisedec priesthood, was the Tithing system. This system was continued thru the years of the Levitical priesthood. Now coining to the 7th chapter of Hebrews, God's financing plan is explained. Notice the comparison between the two tithe-receiving priesthoods. First read the first five verses, Hebrews, chapter 7: "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; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all... abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the LAW" (Heb. 7:1-5). Let's understand it. This vital passage of Scripture begins to compare the two priesthoods. Notice, back in patriarchal times, TITHING was God's system for financing His ministry. Melchisedec was High Priest. The patriarch Abraham, it is written, knew and kept God's commandments. His statutes and laws (Gen. 26:5). And he paid tithes to the High Priest! Then the statement is made in this passage that, during that dispensation from Moses until Christ, the priests of that time, the Levites, took tithes from the people BY LAW. It was a LAW, started in the beginning, continued thru the Mosaic dispensation. Tithing, then, did not start with Moses! It is God's system for financing His ministry, which BEGAN from the BEGINNING — from the dim antiquity of patriarchal times. It was a LAW. It did not start with Moses, it was merely continued on THRU the Mosaic period!
Tithing a LAW from Dim Antiquity
Many excuse themselves from tithing today on the false impression tithing pertained to the Mosaic period only. They think it was for Israel, alone. And that illusion has brought a CURSE on this whole nation! The Old Covenant is gone — that's true. But its ending could not take away what it did not bring! Tithing was God's law hundreds of years before the Old Covenant started. TITHING is revealed as God's system for financing His earthly ministry. Prior to the Levitical priesthood and the Mosaic dispensation, the ministry was under Melchisedec. And we see that ministry, from the beginning, was financed by the tithing system. Melchisedec, "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life ... abideth a priest continually" (Heb. 7:3). Yes, He was High Priest from the beginning! Even from Adam! And the ancient patriarchs from Adam down thru Abraham, Jacob, and on to Moses, financed this ministry of God on earth by the TITHING system!
Merely CONTINUED in Israel
Since tithing is God's permanent, continuous financing system, it had to continue thru the Mosaic dispensation. But when the priesthood was changed, during that period when the Levites were the ministers, their work and labors had to be financed. But God did not change his financing system. The Levites "had a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the LAW." And notice, the very subject of this 7th chapter of Hebrews is the TITHING LAW! Now continuing the 7th of Hebrews, the teaching concerns which of the two priesthoods — Melchisedec, or Levitical — is superior, to determine which priesthood should receive tithes, NOW!" Christians of Paul's day did not need to be instructed that TITHING is an obligatory and permanent law of God. But they did need much teaching to make clear to them that the Old Covenant was dead — the Levitical priesthood gone, and replaced by that of Jesus Christ — the Melchisedec priesthood restored! The only question was as to which Priesthood tithes were to be paid, now! To make this point plain, Paul proceeds to show the Melchisedec Priesthood is superior — has precedence now. Notice the Scripture: "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils... But he whose descent is not counted from them (the Levites), received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him (Abraham) that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less (Abraham) is blessed of the better (Melchisedec)... And as 1 may so say, Levi also, who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him" (verses 4-9). The Melchisedec priesthood is greater — superior! It has precedence! And it is again in force as God's Priesthood, under Christ! It, too, needs to be financed! Now notice the conclusion: "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also in the LAW" (verse 12).
A NEW Testament LAW!
It does not say the law was abolished. The change in Priesthoods makes necessary a CHANGE in the law. What law was thus CHANGED? The very law this chapter is instructing New Testament Christians about — the TITHING LAW! "The sons of Levi have a commandment to take TITHES... according to the law" (verse 5). So tithing, far from being abolished, is NEW TESTAMENT LAW! But, the Priesthood being changed to that of Jesus Christ — the Melchisedec Priesthood restored — that tithing law is also changed of necessity, so as to become God's system for financing the ministry of Jesus Christ! Actually, the law is merely restored, as it was from the beginning! How plain! Tithing is God's law — His system for financing His great work today; it's commanded, now! And this whole nation, says Malachi's prophecy, is under a divine curse because it disregards that law! Every individual who breaks it is under a curse! Let each one ask, "Does that mean me?"