Abrahamic Tithing: Part Four

Abraham’s covenant begins in Genesis 12, asking him as Abram to take his wife and to move to the land that God is promising to him and his children. His obedience began a long line of blessings and protection for all the generations that were to come. His promise to them was simply this: I will bless you and your children, I will give you lands, and I will make you fruitful and numerous beyond the stars (Gen 12, 15, 17, 26, 28, 35, 49-50). Obedience to God and the practice of circumcision added later on were required of the his line to continue the blessings. Even when they disobey God and sin, He continues to provide for them, fulfilling his end of the bargain, in no way limiting their wealth or growth or demanding anything extra from them.

The last direct descendant of Abraham’s line that we see partake of the same covenant is Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham. Joseph serves as a translator for the interpretation of dreams through God and serves an Egyptian captain of the guard by the name of Potiphar, managing his entire household. God gave Joseph success in whatever he did, especially in managing the prison he was kept in and the Pharaoh’s own palace. He had all the wealth of the Pharaoh’s Kingdom in his hands and lived comfortably as second in command over all of Egypt. He recognizes the Lord in all of his success, as Abraham’s line was asked to do, with no offerings or tithes required.  In managing the Pharaoh’s land and country, Joseph has the power to trick and then save his family, moving them all into Egypt with him, where he can protect them. When all the Egyptians have given everything over to Pharaoh for Joseph’s leadership and protection, Joseph gives their land back to them and yields a 20% tax on all the crops grown there, to supply for the Pharaoh and the country.

God promised the line of Abraham to be numerous and fruitful, to bless them in all things, and to take care of them as long as they were obedient to Him and circumcised their children on the 8th day of their birth. They had been promised land and were true to it, Jacob and Joseph making sure to be buried there, rather than Egypt where they had died. When they were unable to have children, they prayed to God, and He cared for them, fulfilling his promise each time. The descendants of Abraham worshipped, erected pillars and altars, and recognized God’s power in all the great acts that they could do. This covenant between them and God is fulfilled in the obedience and faith that they give to Him, and they are blessed immeasurably. When we pick up next week, we will be exploring the beginning of the Mosaic law and how that brought about changes in their relationship. As we move forward, remember this: scripturally, there is no basis for tithing in Abraham’s covenant with God.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part Three

Following Abraham’s line, everything is based on lineage and inheritance, of faith and of God’s blessings, based on the covenant between Abraham and God. Jacob grows up knowing that he is the second son and has no guarantee of the blessings of God and will watch his stronger older brother inherit everything. To get around this, Jacob takes the first opportunity he can to break this line, because he wants to be blessed too. We watch in Genesis 25:27-34, as Jacob makes Esau promise his birthright to him for a single meal. Esau agrees, thinking that one measly agreement won’t change his rightful status as the first born son.

When Isaac knows that he is old in age and will likely die soon, he asks Esau to bring him a fresh and perfect meal which must be hunted as Esau could only do. For this, Isaac will give him the Lord’s blessing and the inheritance which is owed to him. Rebekah and Jacob trick a blind and aging Isaac into blessing the wrong son, while Esau is away. However, this blessing which has been rightfully passed down among Abraham’s line continues to Jacob knowing that Jacob has sinned. Isaac finds out, and God knows the whole time. Yet, Jacob is indeed blessed and rewarded for his sin.

Isaac at this moment, knowing that the blessing has been passed down to the wrong son, even ensures that Jacob knows how to use that blessing to protect himself. He sends him away to Rebekah’s brother, Laban, in order to save him from Esau and tells him to have all of the blessings of Abraham’s line. God later sends him a vision, not to condemn Jacob for his trickery and theft but to confirm his blessing. Jacob sets up a pillar and pours oil over it, vowing that only if God was with him and protects him, returning him to his father’s house, that then he will give God one-tenth of what he was provided.

Laban too is a deceiver and and changed Jacob’s wages ten times, trying to cheat him out of money of which Jacob was owed. Instead, God protects him from the theft against him by marking the sheep that he is entitled to for wages with spots and other markings. In this, Jacob’s wealth grows to the point that Laban’s children begin to have issue with how rich Jacob is getting. God’s blessing of Jacob with wealth is through Jacob stealing the animals that God says he is entitled to from Laban. God gives him children and cattle and blesses him thoroughly, with no tenth being yet paid to God.

Laban feels that Jacob has stolen his daughters and their children from him when Jacob runs away, taking his animals as well. However, Laban knows that he can not fight to keep his children, he agrees that there will be no war between the two men and they make an agreement. They offer up a sacrifice, each of them to their own God to complete the agreement.  Jacob had years of God’s protection promised to him and fulfilled, but still he was fearful of rumors that Esau was coming with a band of 400 men. He separates himself from his household, sending them ahead, in case of a fight. That night wrestles with a man, demanding after the struggle that he will not let the man go unless he blesses him. The man injures Jacob’s hip to mark him and tells him that he is to be named Israel because he has overcome both God and man.

Esau welcomes Jacob as family and tries to refuse the offers of cattle from Jacob in accepting him back. Jacob gives thanks to God for protecting from him from a potential fight with his brother and builds an altar to God to praise him.  Jacob is later called out for his stubbornness in not using the name that God has given him of Israel and for idols and false gods in his lands. Jacob makes another promise and another altar, receiving blessings and promises of land and fruitful offspring with God’s continued help to the line of Abraham, saying kings will come from his line.

From Abraham to Isaac, we have two of the most faithful and obedient men in the Old Testament to model after, and Jacob undercuts all of it. Jacob cheats his way into blessings, steals what is owed to him, and fights God for his blessings, when God has only asked for faith to bless Abraham’s lineage. Even following his promises, being protected by God away from his family and land, Jacob never pays the tenth to God that he trades for protection. Jacob was taken care of as completely as Isaac and Abraham, but no payment was ever issued to God. God cared for him and protected him without a single tithe, because when he said he would bless Jacob, his word was enough.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part Two

Isaac is just as essential to the study of tithing as Abraham, because there isn’t a single scripture to show he paid tithes. My own pastor used Abraham over and over for lessons in tithing, while leaving out Isaac’s complete lack of tithing and the specifics of why Abraham’s line never had to “pay” for their blessings, except in obedience.

“What would a man take tithings for, if he had any…If he never was born, and never will die, and was from beginning to end, and—and never had no father or mother or descent, and owned the whole Heavens and earth and all in it, why would he take tithe? Why would he ask Abraham to pay tithes? You see what a strict thing it is to pay tithes? Tithing is right. Every Christian is duty bound to pay tithe. That’s right. Never has been changed.”

  57-0915E – William Marrion Branham

Lessons from Isaac’s life are more about his warring children or the servant’s journey to bring him Rebekah. Yet when he took over his father’s house, he was so like Abraham in bearing and running his affairs that kings asked for the same peace with him as they had with his father (Gen 26:26-33). It’s no surprise that God reaffirms his covenant with a man who followed the teachings of Abraham so closely. God is even clear as to why: obedience to every law, every statute, every commandment. If tithing were included, it would be here.

Isaac must have grown up hearing the stories of his miraculous conception. He would have known the issues behind the expulsion of his step brother Ishmael, and every other step sibling as Abraham would not allow any of them to share in the blessing with his heir (Gen 25:5-6). Isaac was taught of Abraham’s blessings and to obey God in every aspect, to reap the blessings offered to them. In Abraham’s eyes there was nothing else as dear to him as the fulfillment of God’s word. Isaac was born only through that covenant that Abraham shared with God.

Abraham was given a promise from God himself, and he made sure to remember it. He knew it would take care of his children and all those who would come after. Abraham’s covenant required action of himself and his line, to separate themselves from others with a mark. Abraham made sure Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day, so in Chapter 26 of Genesis, God confirms to Isaac that the covenant will continue to bless and protect his line. Abraham gave willingly of a merry heart for celebration, and it ends there. God is consistent and follows through (Numbers 23:19) and will always prefer the obedience of a willing heart over the giving of worldly things (I Samuel 15:22).

Isaac was known for his unfailing faith in God’s plan for his family (Heb 11:20). Abraham and Isaac both followed His will when it was most painful to them. Because God’s will always came first, Isaac was spared. When Isaac married Rebekah, they were unable to have children, just as his parents, Abram and Sarai, were. He begged the Lord for a child as his father had, and she was able to bear twins.  The Lord promised him, “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham” (Gen 26:3). Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps, every step of the way, continuing his very successful and wealthy line, with God’s blessings and protection. If we take Abraham and his son, Isaac, for examples in tithing, all we pay to God is our obedience.

Abrahamic Tithing: Part One

Tithing is a major part of Christianity today. Whether your church passes a plate, has a box on the back wall, or takes up offerings, we’ve all heard it. We’ve seen the ministers on TV preaching the better you ministries. The concept is always the same: the more you give to God, the more you’ll be blessed. If you’ve ever been in the spot like I was, not having enough money for your bills but having been raised that you had to pay tithes first and ‘God would make it all work’, this is for you. God as always has a clear and beneficial plan for his children. While God blesses those who give to others and believe in Him, tithing is something that seems to wrongly be placed on the forefront.

Most of us grew up believing that tithes started with Abraham’s tale and blessing and a tenth of his wealth which was given away. He made an agreement with God to be obedient and that God promised innumerable offspring, judgment on those who would subdue his children one day, the financial gain from that, and considerable land.. God never once asked or implied that Abraham would need to pay anything out of the wealth God gave him. Abraham wouldn’t take spoils from others. At one time, Abram enlisted 318 male servants from his household, armed them, and pursued Chedorlaomer to rescue his nephew, Lot. After returning victorious with Lot and the spoil taken Abram wanted everyone to know his portion, his wealth, and everything he had had come from the Lord. Because of this, the wealth from spoils of war was paid to the labors of servants and the other soldiers but submitted the excess to the King of Sodom, where his nephew lived (Gen 14:18-20). He gave a tenth to Melchizedek, based on the tradition in the Mesopotamian area of taxes to rulers to be of ten percent, which has later been termed a “tithe” meaning tenth. Later, Paul touches on this giving from Abraham in the New Testament, so we’ll come around to this story again in a later section.

Abraham doesn’t work as a basis for tithing, since his promise from God for wealth did not require tithing. Abraham was blessed many times over by God with only his faith and obedience to God as payment, as his way of sacrifice for the blessings that were given. The only time he gives a tenth, or tithe, to anyone is in the excess acquired from someone else’s wealth, not the blessings given to him by God. If we want to be blessed as Abraham was blessed, the first promise we are given from God comes from a life of obeying His Word.