Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who Initiated the First Tithe?

Here I will answer the question put forth on Nov 8, 2011. Who initiated the first tithe? Believe it or not, it was the seed of Adam, better known as man. God did not initiate the tithe. The first time tithing was mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 14:20. I would suggest that one reads the whole chapter to glean from the entire incident, but for now I'll just hit on the main parts.

Abraham at this point in time was a gentile. Actually he had not yet formally been separated by God to father his son Issac so that the nation of Israel might be born. His name was "Abram the Hebrew" (vs 13). Abram was a wealthy man who had all kinds of flocks and servants. During the war of the kings (Gen.14) many people were taken captive, including Lot, Abram's nephew, along with a ton of provisions by the alliance of kings who won the battle. One of the survivors escaped and made his way to Abram. Abram gathered three hundred and eighteen servants and took his posse out to slaughter Lot's captors. This battle became known as, 'The Slaughter of the Kings'. Lot was rescued and Abram brought back all of the spoils.

On his return, Abram met with the king of Sodom and gave 90% of the spoils to him. The king from Salem attended the homecoming and brought bread and wine to celebrate. This priest/king's name was Melchizedek. He was a priest of the Most High God as well as the king of Salem.

After 'Mel' blessed Abram and gave blessings to God, Abram gave 'Mel' tithes of all the spoils of the slaughter of the kings. (vs 20) "And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all." But Abram did not give him tithes of all he possessed. This fact is confirmed in Hebrews 7:4 where it reads, "Now consider how great this man was (speaking of Mel), unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." Notice here that a distinction is made about where the tithe came from. It was from the spoils of that battle, and not from Abram's assets at home, nor was it an income in the traditional sense. This was a one-time incident with Abraham. He didn't tithe week after week or month after month. Also, his possessions were located in the opposite direction at home. Abram met 'Mel' on his way back to his home, NOT after he got home.

There is no record of him ever tithing again. He didn't give the tithe to a church. He didn't attend the First Baptist Church of Salem; Melchizedek, Pastor! No. This gesture was a well known custom of tribute initiated among the gentiles. 'Mel' was to receive the tithe on behalf of the Most High God. Abram kept nothing for himself because he wanted God to get the glory lest men say he got rich because he won a battle and was the benefactor of the generosity of an earthly king.

The Jewish law on tithing didn't show up until the Jews clamored for a law from God. When Moses came down off the mount, they had their law. Later, God had Moses add to the law and one of those laws was the law on tithing. But, lest you think this carries over to the N.T. Church, I caution you to consider that there were very specific rules as to who could tithe, when one could tithe, and what they could tithe. It also had restrictions on who couldn't tithe.

It is a dangerous thing when people try to 'spiritulize' and superimpose something from the O.T. and turn it into a doctrine which was never meant for the N.T. This seems to happen all the time in the Institutional style of 'Church'. Think about would the clergy ever pay for their Promotions and Projects without them Prodding the laity about the tithe?

When I first left the 'Church', I visited one of the Trustees who was a very good friend of mine. He doesn't exactly share my viewpoint on the tithe. When we discussed it for a while he said, "It's a Biblical PRINCIPLE that we should tithe!" Some time later I was flipping channels on the T.V. one morning and saw a Fundamental Baptist preacher yell, "Tithing is an UNWRITTEN LAW for the Church to follow!" "Biblical Principle?" "Unwritten law?" Are you kidding me? I think the person who taught that it is a Biblical Principle was a member of the 'clergy'. And, there is no such thing as a legal law that is not written down. The one written in the O.T. was for another nation during another time. It doesn't apply to the N.T. church.

When someone reasons that typology can be used as an illustration, that is fine. But when they use it to create a doctrine, that's wrong. Abram does not equal a Christian in modern times. 'Mel' was a 'type' of Christ, and that is a great illustration, but one should never plug-in one occurrence and apply it to another that doesn't fit just so they can support an agenda. Exchanging personages in the O.T. to the N.T. and visa versa, to support a theme being taught is spiritulizing and superimposing. It is also wresting the Scriptures. If one wishes to tithe to see God work in his life, that's fine with me. But if one is bullied into it because the preacher says, "if you don't tithe, you are cursed with a curse" and tries to back it up by twisting Scripture, that's wicked. Don't be duped by the duped. There is no such law imposed for Christ's ekkelsia. The 'clergy' is desperate for our money to keep their little empires thriving. If you want to have a great relationship with Christ, without a price tag attached, follow Him and not some money grabber.

Man thought of the tithe and put into practice as a tribute way before Abram became 'the Hebrew.' God didn't order a tithe to be given as a tribute to Him until the Law was established. His prescription was that the tithe was to be food and livestock. It was never money. Shekels were in wide use even during Abraham's lifetime. The food tithe was for the purpose of celebration during the harvest. It was derived from the seed of the land within the borders of Israel alone. No outside tithes were accepted. It had to be organic. Shekels are not organic and neither is this modern day teaching on N.T. tithing.

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