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Hebrews 7:4-10 – OT

05.16.2011

Lev 27:30-33 | Num 18:21-24 | Mal 3:8-12

Doing something a bit different this week.  Instead of looking at one specific OT referent, there are three which deserve equal billing because they each shed light on a different aspect of the issue in question, which this week is tithing.

In Leviticus, the Israelites are told that a tenth of the produce (or wealth) of the land is to be given to God because it is His.  In the narrow sense, their future in the Promised Land is entirely a product of His blessing, so it follows then that He can claim a portion of that as His own.  This extends beyond the physical Promised Land to the more general promise of blessing and keeping His people wherever they lived, reminded that their wealth and income were ultimately God’s.  So the guiding principle here: we tithe because it belongs to God.

In Numbers, God notes that He gives this tithe to the Levites beacuse they have declined a life of earning an income to support themselves and their families and God will provide for those in service to Him.  This is their inheritance from Him.  We see in this, by extension, the underlying message behind Jesus’ call to consider the birds of the air, that living a life for God means focusing on serving Him and trusting in providence.  So the guiding principle here: God gives the tithe to His servants.

Lastly, in Malachi, God admonishes the people for not being faithful in their tithe.  He challenges them to test Him, to give from their income to Him and see whether or not He makes the heavens rain blessings, more than compensating for the trust they put in Him.  We see here that God does not need our money, but He demands our respect and trust.  We can, if you will, put our money where our mouths are, by backing up our words of praise and trust with the deed of tithing.  So the guiding principle here: tithing leads to blessings from God.

I promise this isn’t going to be a week/lesson on why it’s good to tithe.  Not that such a thing is somehow unworthy, but just because I’m laying groundwork for our ability to understand the argument in Hebrews that we will read on Thursday.  Stay tuned!

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