This is a very important and special study today. It carries special significance because there is a lot of confusion and a lot of wrong believing in this particular area, and it is the area of how Jesus has made provisions for our prosperity. Now there are some people who immediately recoil at the mention of prosperity, and one of the main areas where there is a lot of wrong believing and a lot of wrong teaching is in the area of tithing.
So today we are going to be studying tithing, and how Jesus has made provisions for us to prosper in every area of our life. And I believe that at the end of this study, many people’s eyes are going to be opened and many chains are going to be broken in the area of finances and prosperity as a result of seeing the truth of Jesus in our lives today and specifically in this area.
So let’s get started, and I am going to start by asking you a simple question:
Have you ever said grace over a meal?
Now I know some of you are already wondering how this fits in with the topic of the study, but just bear with me for a moment and answer this question: Have you ever said grace over a meal? And if so, why did you do it? Is it just a ritual, or is there more to it?
The Bible tells us that Jesus has made provisions for our prosperity in every area of our lives. Through our understanding and acceptance of these simple principles, we can prosper in our health, and our relationships, in our wisdom and peace, and yes even our finances.
The easiest way to understand this truth is through the principle of the First-Fruits and the Tithe. Now I know that today in our culture, the word Tithe is generally connected with money, however the word “tithe” simply means one-tenth. It could be one-tenth of anything; land, cattle, time, and yes of course also money. Now under the Old Covenant of the Law of Moses, there were three distinct types of Tithes. The first is the Tithe to the Lord found in Numbers 18:21. This is the regular 10% tithe from the Gross increase that many believers try to practice today.
The second tithe is the tithe of the yearly Feast of Tabernacles found in Deuteronomy 14:22. This tithe came out of the remaining 90% Net increase after the first tithe, and was used to make the scheduled pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem for communal worship.
The Third tithe was the Tithe to the Poor done every three years and is found in Deuteronomy 14:28. It was to be stored-up and used for the poor.
The thing about the principle of tithing found in the Bible is that it was never a gift. These were not free-will donations… they were ordinances, they were commandments from God. When you tithed under the Old Covenant, you were not “giving to God”, this was your duty and responsibility, and you were under a curse for not fulfilling your obligation.
Another important detail about the Biblical definition of tithing under the Old Covenant Law, is that tithing was always food, from the Holy Land of Israel, which God had increased! Money could not be tithed, and Gentiles were also excluded from tithing. So already we are beginning to see how tithing as it is practiced today by many believers is failing to line-up with the Biblical definition.
Now contrast this with the principle of First-Fruits found in Leviticus 23:9-14 . There are many believers, and even pastors and leaders today who confuse the idea of Tithe and First-Fruits as if they were the same thing, but they are not. As we study the Bible, we can clearly see that the two are very different with completely different purposes and requirements. The people were to offer their grain offerings at the beginning of the new harvest before they actually harvested it all or consumed any of it. So we can see that it is very different from tithing because it was impossible to give a tenth before the full harvest had come. Money of any kind was not even an acceptable first-fruit offering.
The purpose of first-fruits was to teach the people the principle of redemption. It was a symbol of remembrance of how God delivered Israel from their slavery and into the land of promise.
It is important to know that the first-fruit offering was also a commandment from God and not a free-will gift.
So how does this connect with Jesus’ provisions for us? The Bible makes it very clear that in the eyes of God, Jesus was offered as a First-Fruits offering for all of us today. Let’s read 1st Corinthians 15:20-26:
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Then comes the end, when he will have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”
These verses are speaking of the finished work of Jesus for all of us today, because we were considered as dead in our sins, but now we are alive in Christ Jesus. Him having taken the curse of sin and the punishment that was due us. We are completely cleansed and completely free because He has totally paid our debt to God, we no longer need to be afraid.
But How does Jesus being a First-Fruits offering for us fit into all of this good news? You see my friends, the First-Fruits was originally a way to offer a sacrifice, to set aside the first and best of a thing in order to sanctify the remaining harvest. Take a look at Romans 11:16-18:
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were graffed in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Boast not against the branches. But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you.”
These verses on the surface may seem difficult to understand, so let’s meditate on them verse by verse.
If the first-fruit is holy (proper, sanctified and pure without any spot or blemish) then the lump (the rest of the harvest) is also made holy as well. This is the key; and this is what so many believers still don’t understand about first-fruits. The purpose of the first-fruit offering is not about sacrificing things we like or things that we think that we need; actually first-fruits is about saving, sanctifying, and redeeming things that are utterly lost and totally dead. First-fruits is about protecting and restoring to wholeness that which has been corrupted by sinful nature. By Jesus being our First-Fruits offering, the first-fruits of all of us, the most perfect, pure and holy One who was “cast away” in order to save all of mankind, today we can receive His purity, His righteousness, His redemption and His grace into every area of our lives today – including our finances, because it makes absolutely no sense to say that Jesus has redeemed us completely but not to include our financial provision.
So do we need to give first-fruits offerings today? No!
Jesus is our one and only first-fruits offering and we should not and can not add anything to what He done.
So what about Tithing then? Do we still need to give any of the ten-percent tithes? No!
My dear friends, please do not allow any pastor, preacher or anyone try to use guilt or condemnation to bring you into the bondage of the law to force you to give. Jesus Christ as our eternal High Priest has put an end to all the ordinances and laws of the Old Covenant. We read this plainly in Hebrews 7:14-22:
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there rises another priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
For he testifies, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw near to God.
And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said to him, The Lord swore and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”
So we can see very clearly, especially in verse 18, that the old commandment (in this context, tithing) has been utterly canceled by Christ, and the verse even goes as far as to call the law weak and unprofitable! To practice tithing is to bring yourself back into the bondage of the law and to forfeit Christ Jesus.
Now then, how are we supposed to give? My friends, it all comes back to recognizing Jesus as the provision for our prosperity. At the start of this message, I mentioned saying grace over a meal. This is not a tithe or a first-fruits, but it is recognizing and acknowledging that the finished work of Christ has sanctified the food before you. Saying a prayer over food as a dead ritual or repetitive behavior does nothing, but truly acknowledging the sanctification by Christ of the food set before you as mentioned in 1st Timothy 4:3-4 certainly does have an effect. The word sanctified means “made holy, set apart for its intended purpose.” So what is the intended purpose of food? Many people have their own answers and ideas regarding the purpose of food, but let’s see what God has to say on the subject. Psalm 104:14-15:
“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”
When you put these verses together with the verses of 1st Timothy 4 that I mentioned, you will come to one singular conclusion. That food was given by God for us to enjoy.
My friends, there was never any sickness or disease in God’s original plan for us. There was never any disease germ or bacteria. Sickness, disease and germs came as the result of sin and the fall of creation. But God has provided a simple method for us to receive the provision and protection of Christ into our lives, and I truly am thankful that He has made it so simple. When we receive Jesus’ sacrifice for us, when we acknowledge it, then we are set free. We do this with our food by receiving it with thanksgiving just as the scripture says in Exodus 23:25:
“And you will serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you.”
It’s the same with finances, we do not buy favor with God. Furthermore there is no ritual or sacrifice that we can do to cancel our own curse. Just as we can not buy our way into Heaven, we also can not tithe our way to prosperity, nor can we offer first-fruits to sanctify our own finances… and anyone who teaches that we can, is either ignorant of the Gospel of Christ in this area or purposefully misleading the people because of greed. Let’s look at two more verses of scripture to solidify this fact… Hebrews 7:25:
“Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”
It is Christ Jesus alone who sanctifies us to the uttermost. That means not leaving anything in our lives unsanctified, including our finances. For anyone to claim that we need to take further actions beyond receiving Jesus for our finances to be blessed is to do a great injustice to the sacrifice of Christ.
The last verse for us to see sums up the actual free-will Grace-powered giving that we should engage in as believers in Jesus Christ today, 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8:
“But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
Many pastors and preachers love to use verse 6 as a hammer to beat the people with guilt so that they give more, but that is not the purpose of this verse. Verse 6 must be read in context. Verses 8 and 9 give us the key point… it is impossible to give under the law, because the law makes it a command and not a gift. Furthermore it is impossible to give cheerfully when it is forced. The reason we can choose to truly give generously today from our own free-will is because we know that God through Christ Jesus has already sanctified us completely and is prospering us continually in every area – including our finances, and our giving is a result of that, not the cause of it.
Just as with our food today, we are able to be thankful and receive because Christ has already done the work, paid for our sins and sanctified us. Likewise with our money, we are able to give freely because He has already paid the price for us. Our poverty was laid on Him so that we would be rich, and our giving reflects that true nature. It is not a law or command, but truth in Christ Jesus. So when you encounter a pastor today who teaches tithing, or if you attend a church today that practices tithing or first-fruits, or tells you that you are cursed with a curse if you don’t tithe, or that you are robbing God if you don’t pay a certain amount, recognize that is simply a failure of that pastor or that church or that ministry to see Jesus; they are failing to see the redemptive work of Jesus in your finances. It is impossible for you to be cursed when God has pronounced you blessed in Christ. Recognize Jesus’ provision for your prosperity, only then will you be able to do what the verse in 2nd Corinthians 9 says, and be able to give cheerfully, not grudgingly or out of necessity, because you will know that Christ has already redeemed your finances. Only then will you be free from the curse of the Law, because to bring yourself under the bondage of tithing, to bring yourself under the law – even in one single area – makes Christ of no effect (Galatians 5:4) that is why the Law today is so dangerous. Anyone who tries to fulfill the Law – even in one area – is in bondage to do the entire Law.
My friends, Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the Law, having been made a curse for you (Galatians 3:13), and God nailed His own commandments and ordinances to the cross along with Christ (Colossians 2:14) Trust in that.
We serve a New Covenant God, not an Old Covenant God. He has put an end to the Old Covenant, and brought us in to the New Covenant under better promises. For anyone to say that God will only bless you for obeying an Old Covenant law is doing nothing but negating Christ and exalting self, it is a dead work of the flesh. God is not there operating in the Old Covenant, when today we have the New Covenant brought about by the finished work of Jesus Christ.
You are blessed, receive Jesus’ provision freely, and give freely. Amen.