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    August 9, 1883

    “The Honor Due to God.—No. 2” The Signs of the Times, 9, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Last week we showed that besides honoring God in a general way with our means, we are called upon to honor him with the first-fruits of all our increase-to devote a tithe to God. We showed that it rests upon the same foundation as the Sabbath, and is as binding on men. The payment of tithes dates from long before the Jews were called as God’s peculiar people, and is one of those things which our Saviour said ought to be done. Perhaps we do not always grasp the full force of that word “ought.” Webster says it denotes “obligation to duty,” “moral obligation.” When, therefore, Christ said, “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” it was the equivalent to a command. In effect he said, It is your duty not only to do judgment, mercy, etc., but also to pay tithes. Reader, do you profess to love the Lord? remember that he has said: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.1

    There is one more thought which we will present as showing that tithing is not a Jewish but a Christian doctrine. We turn to the case of Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings. Genesis 14. When Melchizedek, king of Salem, and “the priest of the Most High God,” came forth, Abraham gave him tithes of all that he had gained. In the seventh chapter of Hebrews, the apostle Paul, in the course of an argument based on this circumstance, to show the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood, makes incidentally a strong argument on the obligation to pay tithes. We quote verses 4-10.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.2

    “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham; but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him.”SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.3

    The argument for tithing, which is none the less forcible because it is brought in incidentally, to illustrate another point, is as follows: Under the Mosaic law the tribe of Levi, which was appointed for the service of the sanctuary, received tithes of the people. The tribe of Levi was, therefore, superior in rank to the other tribes. Abraham was the father of all the Jewish tribes, and consequently he was greater even than Levi. The Jews regarded Abraham with peculiar reverence. But Melchizedek was greater even than Abraham, as is shown by the fact that he received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him. Hebrews 7:4, 6, 7. Abraham had the promises of God, yet Melchizedek blessed him, and the act of blessing implies superiority of age for rank, as Paul says, “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” Abraham was himself a priest, empowered to offer sacrifices, as were all the patriarchs, yet he was inferior to Melchizedek, “the priest of the Most High God.” And from this Paul concludes that the priesthood of Melchizedek was far superior to that of Levi.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.4

    But what has this to do with tithing? Just this: The Melchizedek priesthood received tithes. Christ is now, our priest, but as he is “made a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek,” Hebrews 6:20; 7:21; Psalm 110:4, we also are under the Melchizedek priesthood, as was Abraham, and therefore we are under obligation to pay tithes, as well as he was. For if it was necessary that those living under the Levitical order should take tithes, it is far more necessary that we should do so who live under the order of Melchizedek, since the Levitical priesthood itself, and the person of its head, paid tithes to Melchizedek. And this point is enforced by Paul when, evidently referring to Christ, he says: “And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” Hebrews 7:8.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.5

    We have now given sufficient evidence, we think, to show that Christians are under obligation to pay tithes. Other points will be noticed, however, as we consider various questions that arise in regard to the tithe. The first thing that will claim our attention is the question as toSITI August 9, 1883, page 355.6

    WHAT THE TITHE IS

    When Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek it is said that “he gave him tithes of all,” Genesis 14:20, the “all” referring to the spoil which he had captured from the kings. The remaining nine-tenths, less the amount that the young men that had accompanied him had eaten, Abraham turned over to the king of Salem. See verses 22-24. It should be particularly borne in mind that the tithe was taken from the whole amount, verse 20, without regard to what may have been taken out, and that the support of the servants while on the march came from the nine-tenths. Since Abraham generously refused to keep anything himself, the king of Sodom received nine-tenths of the spoil, less the portion which Abraham’s confederates took.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.7

    Another point in connection with this circumstance should not be overlooked. The spoil that Abraham recovered originally belonged to the king of Sodom. Although it was now his, as the king of Sodom himself admitted, verse 21, Abraham refused to consider it so, and persisted in returning it to its original owner, lest he should seem to be under obligation to the king of Sodom. Here is the conversation:-SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.8

    “And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich; save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” Genesis 14:21-24.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.9

    Now mark, Abraham had sworn that he would not take any thing that belonged to the king of Sodom, except the portion for the young men, and yet he took out one-tenth to give to Melchizedek. What does this show? It shows that Abraham regarded the tenth as belonging solely to God, no matter in whose hands it might be. The king of Sodom had never paid any tithe on this property, and so Abraham, when it came into his possession, promptly gave the Lord his tithe. And in so doing he acted perfectly consistent with his determination to restore to the king of Sodom all his property; for the tithe had always been the Lord’s, and the king of Sodom had never had any just claim on it.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.10

    We come down about one hundred and twenty-five years, and we find Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau, as recorded in Genesis 28. One night on his journey he slept and dreamed that he saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, upon which the angels of God were ascending and descending. It was here that God renewed the promise that he had made to Abraham and Isaac. When Jacob awoke, his heart was touched, and he felt solemn. The result is stated in the following words:-SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.11

    “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God; and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Genesis 28:20-22SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.12

    It is worthy of note that Jacob’s past life had been very faulty. It was in consequence of his deceptions that he was now fleeing for his life. And now when he turns to the Lord, and resolves to serve him henceforth the first thing in his mind is that he will pay tithes. Surely Jacob must have had some instruction as to the importance of tithing, even though he may not have carried it out heretofore. Some persons seem inclined to sneer at this vow of Jacob’s, and say that he was trying to make a sharp bargain with the Lord. Such an idea can only come from a very superficial reading of this chapter. When Jacob said, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I go,” etc., he was only repeating what the Lord had already promised, verse 15: “And behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee into this land. “This, with the two preceding verses, was a great promise on the Lord’s part; and Jacob, filled with gratitude, solemnly entered into a covenant with God, promising to serve him; and in the promised service the payment of tithes occupies a prominent place.SITI August 9, 1883, page 355.13

    But now to the main point, as to what the tithe is. Read it again verses 20-22, already quoted. Upon how much of the property that he might receive did Jacob promise to pay tithes answer: “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” And now notice particularly that Jacob did not say that he would first pay his expenses-provide himself with food and clothing, and then give a tithe of the remainder to the Lord. Not at all. Read verse 20, and you will see that Jacob did not expect to amass great wealth in Syria; all he asked for was bread to eat and raiment to put on; and this was the “all,” of which he promised to give a tenth to Lord. According to the word, if he had earned only a bare living, one-tenth of it was to be returned to the Lord.SITI August 9, 1883, page 356.1

    From these two cases, then, we may learn that before we use any part of our income, even for the absolute necessaries of life, we must take out a tenth of the whole for the Lord. We have also direct testimony to this effect, in these words: “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase.” Proverbs 3:9. Many persons who believe it is their duty to pay a tithe, fail to give the Lord all that is his due. We may rob God by withholding a part of the tithe as well as by withholding the whole. When, through the prophet Malachi, God accuses the people of robbing him in tithes and in offerings, he says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house.” Malachi 3:10. We cannot effect a compromise with God, and satisfy him with the performance of only a part of our duty. E. J. W.SITI August 9, 1883, page 356.2

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