Everything that comes out of the Earth belongs to God. That’s why Covenant of Life gives 10-20% of everything that comes to us. We want to bring the covenant to earth and so we practice tithing as a church. As most Christians are aware, tithing is a concept that is first found in the Old Testament, and as such its relevance is sometimes questioned. “I thought we could ignore the Old Testament?” some might wonder. While there is evidence of the importance of tithing in the New Testament, we can actually go back in time, even before the Mosaic Law commanded the Israelites to tithe, in order to find a rationale for tithing today.
There is a priest we read about in Genesis 14:18-20 called Melchizedek. He was a strange figure because there is no record of his ancestors and recorded beginning or end to his life. In the Jewish tradition, he is an enigma. In fact, it wasn’t until several hundred years later when the writer of Hebrews explains the significance of Melchizedek. Hebrews 7 tells us that Jesus is our forever priest, in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is like Melchizedek in many ways: existing eternally, a historical enigma, and a mediator of God’s covenant with humanity. This is the covenant that we have all come into through Jesus. It is the original covenant and no other: to bless all the people of the earth. So if Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek, and Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, then we start to see that there may be a connection to tithing for us who follow Jesus.
The blessing of Abraham is the blessing he received from Melchizedek and it’s what we receive through Christ. It’s the same covenant that God made with the Patriarchs, to bless all the people of the earth. The covenant God made with Abraham and the blessing Melchizedek gave Abraham endure to today. Note that the Abrahamic covenant existed before the Mosaic Law. So the tithing skeptics are actually right: we have nothing to do with the Levitical priesthood. But we have everything to do with the covenant made with Abraham to be a blessing to the world.
When Jesus died, he not only paid the price for our sins, he left us the new covenant as a will. In many parts of the world, and especially in the ancient world, the guarantee of sonship is the inheritance that comes from the father. So when we tithe, we are saying to our Father in heaven, “Thank you for your last will and inheritance that you left us.” And not only are we left with an inheritance, but we can be assured—even guaranteed—that no one will steal it from us since Jesus rose from the dead and testifies to our worthiness. No one can contest the will because the Son has risen, he is our elder brother, the firstborn of many in God’s family, and he says we are worthy to receive it.
We do not give God a tithe. It is not something he lacks or that we own. We return our tithe to God. It always belonged to him. And when we say “it” we mean everything, just as Abraham tithed from everything. We tithe from our money, supplies, resources; anything we’ve been called to steward. We get to use our imaginations! When we tithe we declare to the whole world that we are relying on God’s covenant and promise to be our supply for health, finances, and opportunity. We return to him the first tenth of everything that comes to us. And we experience the resulting richness of tithing. (Thank you, Jesus, for being the guarantor of this covenant!)
If we have power over our tithe then it’s not a tithe any more. Giving is good, and generosity is awesome, but they’re not the same as tithing. When we tithe we let go of control, and the width of heaven opens over us—we become a gateway. This is what happened to Jacob in Genesis 28. Jacob was running from Esau. He arrived at a certain place and slept with his head on a stone. He dreamt and saw angels ascending and descending. God promised him and his descendants the land. “I am with you and will protect you. I will not leave you until I have given you everything I have promised you.” Jacob had a reverence for that place and called it Bethel, which means “house of God”. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus declares, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Jesus has chosen to use the Church as his medium for the delivery of the covenant, the blessing of all nations. The Church—the House of God—is the gate of heaven where angels ascend and descend like they did for Jacob. When you bring your tithe into the local church you bring it to the open heaven over the House of God. And you release it to Jesus—who is our eternal high Priest, in the order of Melchizedek.
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