One of the strongest calls for revival by God anywhere in Scripture is: “Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you said, in what way shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, in what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:7,8, NKJV).
It may be a shocking thing to see God's greatest cry for His people to return to Him. He examined their tithing as an indicator of where they were spiritually. Many a preacher through the years has rightly said, “If you want to see how real a man's faith is, take a look at his bank account.” God was doing exactly that! In this case, in 430 BC Israel was in a 100-year spiritual decline and God, through the prophet Malachi, put His finger on one of the main problems. They were stealing God’s tithe!
I'm sure that almost every believer reading this article has struggled with the practice of tithing at some point in their lives. It is easy to walk into your church and see the beauty, which is the result of all the expenditures on a building that appears to only be used once or twice a week. On occasion, an off-hour walk through the building can reveal lights being left on, air conditioning, or heat operated at levels that seem extreme to you. If you are a member, once a year you sit through a business meeting where you see the totals of giving income, the pastoral staff salaries, and sometimes even a large chunk of money being held aside for unforeseen incidentals.
It is easy for questions to creep in regarding how much of your money your church really needs, and start to mentally justify cutting back on your giving.
Although tithes do go to support the expenses of the local church, the main point of tithing is extremely important and goes deep into the very center of a believer’s worship of God. The argument that Jesus never instructed His disciples to tithe is well known. However, He did say that the Scribes and Pharisees tithed, and that “I say unto you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20, NKJV).
In Hebrews 7 the author wrote about a very important biblical figure named Melchizedek, King of Salem. Melchizedek’s story, first told in Genesis 14, describes this mysterious figure who has no parents and is without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. Genesis tells us that upon returning from the slaughter of the pagan kings, Abraham gave one-tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews wanted to focus on the practice of giving tithes directly to God, Himself meeting the needs of the local church but implemented through the priesthood. Tithing did not start with the Law of God and did not end with the New Covenant!
In my opinion, tithing predates the law and goes back to Abraham, using the example of honoring God by giving to Melchizedek.
I believe that one of the greatest pieces of evidence that remain to this day that a person has been truly revived and or truly born again is that they cheerfully begin to give to God’s work. Are you praying that kind of prayer? “God, I want to return to you with all of my heart.” Do not be surprised if He points you to the income that He has given you and asks for a very unique form of worship; worshipping Him by giving back to His Kingdom through your local church.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.