Kingdom Tithing: Part Two

            In the years of Jehoiada, in 2 Chron 22-24, following the takeover of the Kingdom of Judah by Athaliah and the murders of the royal family, he makes a covenant with the commanders to gather the Levites from among the Israelites and the heads of households. He took the Levites to protect and serve the Temple of the Lord first, observing all restrictions of who may enter and how to care for it, following the covenant with the Lord from the time of Moses. They put Athaliah to death, being careful to keep the murder outside of the Temple and then in a covenant with all of the Israelites, he proclaims that their people will be the Lord’s people again. In this, they destroy all of the altars and idols and the priest of Baal to destroy the god that was separating them from the Lord’s protection and blessings. Ahaziah and Athaliah had done evil in the eyes of the Lord and led them astray, for idols of Baal and following the house of Ahab were disobedience to the Lord. It is after the new covenant is made that Jehoiada collects up an annual tithe from all of Israel to repair the temple (2 Chron 24:5).

         Following Jehoiada’s death, each king fails the Lord in his own way (2 Chron 25:7-8; 26:18; 27:2; 28:2-3). After Ahaz, the final king of 2 Chron 25-28, his son, Hezekiah, takes the throne and immediately turns back to God and caring for the Temple. His first act is to purify the temple as a rededication, assigning Levites and priests to serve the needs of the temple according to the law. He then calls for a celebration of Passover, which had not been possible due to the small number of priests. This causes them to destroy the idols to other gods. Finally, Hezekiah sends out a  collection of all tithes of the Israelites in 2 Chron 31:4-12 that support the Levites as their inheritance in their work for the Temple. This rededication of the Temple and of His people to the covenant of the Lord and the promises and duties of the Israelites is to put them back in good standing with the Lord, not just in fearful obedience but in celebration and praise of His glory in their lives. Hezekiah and his reign are then marked by prosperity, because he sought to do everything precisely to God’s instructions and to obey Him faithfully (2 Chron 31:21). In the closing of Chronicles, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise in the establishment of a king over Israel, that all will be good if they and their king follow the Lord. However, the many kings who do evil in the eyes of the Lord set His hand against them (1 Sam 12:13-15).  The kings of Israel and their people fail the Lord so horribly, that they lose their kingdom as we will see in the next section following exile from their lands (2 Chron 36:14-23, 2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 39).

          Each time that we see the mention of tithes during the kings, the disobedience of the Israelites is called out. The people worship other gods, neglect their responsibilities to the Levites and the Temple, and marry and bear children with women of other nations, neglecting the unique heritage that God had given them. He turns away from His people only after they have turned away from Him. The use of tithing and offerings is a way of keeping their attention to God and sacrifices to Him that are given willingly and freely. The grains and animals serve to support the Levites which supports the Temple which houses the Lord, as Mosaic law dictated. Any failure of the Israelites to give of their harvest, which was blessed first by God, undermines the appreciation of what He has done for them and promises to do, if only they obey Him.

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