As many of you know who dare to read these posts and look at the comments I leave; I tend to promote ideas that make a person "think". I have devoted my life to independently studying the Bible so as to better understand God's Heart. There is a risk when the Bible is strictly taken literally that the kind of legalism the scribes taught the Pharisees can take place. God is love, God is light and God is all good. Everything we read in the written Word of God has to measured against the standard of who God is or we lose sight of the big picture.
For instance; we know that God is faithful. He has said many times in His Word that He is. We also know that God is perfect. We know that God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent. Yet, God did indeed "change His mind" many times in the Old Testament. If one strictly takes every word in God's Word literally, there will be many occasions where apparent contradictions abound. God does not lie and He does not repent. But He is also a God of love who will "stretch His own rules" as far as He can without breaking His Word.
God forbade certain behavior in the law of the Old Testament. Certainly David was guilty of some pretty big transgressions when it came to Uriah and Bathsheba. By all strictly literal standards of accountability, David should have been executed for what he did in that matter. If not that, he surely should have been forced to give up his office as king and lose the Holy Spirit God had given him. David knew this and prayed earnestly in Psalms 51. David's plea was for mercy because he knew what he had done was horribly wrong and worthy of the worst punishment available.
God did have mercy on David and although he lost the baby born by Bathsheba, he was allowed to live, serve as king and keep the Holy Spirit God had given him. Did God operate a double standard by letting David "off the hook" while holding others to the "letter of the law" including the prescribed punishment? Some have argued that God does indeed lie and cannot therefore be trusted. I argue that God looks on the heart of a person and sees if they have truly repented.
One of the most evil kings who ever reigned in the Old Testament was Hezekiah's son Manasseh. This man began reigning when he was but twelve years old and reigned for 55 years. Manasseh did things in Jerusalem far more sordid and evil than the worst unbelievers anywhere in the world did. He filled Jerusalem with idols and killed all the righteous people in the city. In the 2 Kings record of Manasseh in chapter 21, the record ends with God describing him as evil. He died and slept with his fathers.
In the 2 Chronicles account which is in chapter 33 one finds an extremely interesting thing. In verse 9 it says:
"So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen..."
So far the record mirrors the one in 2 Kings. But, from this point on, the account in 2 Chronicles is totally absent from 2 Kings. The Assyrians took Manasseh and bound him with fetters and carried him to Babylon. 2 Chronicles 33:12, 13 is the key to this whole discussion:
"And when he (Manasseh) was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.
And he prayed unto him; and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his Kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God."
Manasseh was an evil king with a capital E. He had no respect or love for God during all the years he forced God's people to worship idols, sacrifice their children to Moloch or killed their prophets. Manasseh had no right to live let alone be given a second chance to rule. Every other evil king who ever ruled eventually died and nothing good was said of him. What made Manasseh different enough for God to extend to him a chance to rectify his mistakes?
There is only one explanation and that is that God KNEW that Manasseh would have a change of heart if given the chance. Knowing this, God arranged to have him spend some time in captivity in Babylon and during that time Manasseh repented and God forgave him. It is unfathomable to think that God would allow a man who had done all the evil Manasseh had done to return to power and rule again.
In 2 Chronicles 33:13-18 you can read of the wonderful things this man did when given a second chance. He tried to undo all he had done wrong. He ended up being a very good king. I bring verse 19 to your attention though:
"His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trepass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold , they are written among the sayings of the seers."
Where exactly do we find the "sayings of the seers?" Obviously there are parts of the Old Testament missing from our current Bible. I am not about to get into a discussion on the "lost" or "missing" books of the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Apocrypha. All I will say is that in some ancient texts, and in some versions of the Apocrypha, there is a short book known as "The Prayer of Manasseh". Although not generally accepted as being written by the man we have been looking at; who is to say it wasn't? 2 Chronicles stated that somewhere there is a copy of his prayer.
I do not believe it is correct to put God or His guidelines in a box. I am a firm believer that when it comes to what God CAN do, we must think outside the box for Ephesians 3:20 says God is able to do exceeding abundantly above anything we can ask or think. A God so big that we cannot fathom what He is able to do should not be put into a box made up of human dimensions. God's ability in every category far exceeds man's ability to conceive or believe it. God is simply too big and awesome to limit Him by making Him conform to our human limitations.
No man would ever believe God would forgive Manasseh and give him a second chance. Yet, God did it because He knew the man's heart. No man would have allowed David to continue serving as King and even retain the Holy Spirit after what he did in the flesh. But, God forgave because the man repented. The grace and mercy of God are so deep and so wide they cannot be measured. The love of God is so rich, there are not resources in heaven and earth to buy even one drop of it. The compassion of our God reaches beyond the heavens. We cannot, nor, dare I say, should not limit our God by making Him conform to our feeble mind's limitations.
Tithing is an Old Testament term and was part of the Mosaic law. Those living in the Old Testament were under obligation to tithe, for it was the law. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. Every jot and title of it. When a word study of "tithe" is done, it suddenly disappears in the New Testament. Just like everything else in the law, the legal requirement to tithe has been fulfilled. Every principle Jesus introduced is built on love. Love is the fulfilling of the law.
God does not want His people living now to just tithe. He wants them to rise up to a higher plane and see what is available when you just give and give from the heart and not out of a legal obligation. I know I will be judged a heretic for writing this, but I believe it is truth, and thus I am under orders to write it. Tithing has been superseded with giving. Sure, I know everything we have and receive in this life came from God. If we really believed that, then why limit our giving to just 10%?
I once knew a man who gave 90% of his income to a ministry. He ended up being a millionaire many times over. I have known people who so totally believed that everything they received came from the Lord, that they gave it all away to help in missions and other benevolent work. I know a group of monks whom I love dearly and almost joined a few years ago who took a vow of poverty and sold everything they owned for the privilege of living in a stone house and wear a robe everyday.
Tithing lets people off too easy. There are millions of people who do not need or would even miss 10% of their income. Are these people to be deemed "righteous" because they tithe? This is exactly what the Pharisees did and what Jesus confronted in Matthew 23. Remember how amazed Jesus was at the widow who threw everything she had into the treasury. That is the standard of giving we have in the New Testament.
I have known hundreds of people who tithe regularly, live in mansions and have bank accounts in the 7 figures. Are they rich because they tithed? Not most of them, for they were rich long before they started tithing. Tithing for many people is just another church ritual they do without thinking about and grumble all the time they do it. Where is the "heart" in doing something only because it is requirement? Giving, according to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 should be done willingly, joyfully and from the heart. God will bless this giving with His grace and provide sufficiency in all things.
I am in no way condemning anyone for tithing. I am only holding up a standard that far exceeds the tithe not only in the amount given but the heart in which it is given. God loves a cheerful giver. Obviously He is not too fond of an uncheerful one. God will bless and honor giving as long as the "heart" is right. God will not bless tithing if it is done grudgingly and out of necessity.
God blessed Manasseh even though outwardly he was as wicked as a man could be. God blessed him because of his "heart". God blessed Paul even though he had killed His people. God saw Paul's "heart" and saw past his sin. God blessed David even though he had committed sins that whose legal penalty was death. God looked on David's heart and said "here is a man after mine own heart". In spite of David's shortcomings, God still said that about him in the book of Acts.
I may urge someone not to tithe, but only from the perspective that there is something far bigger and better available. Why limit ourselves to a legal obligation of 10%? Why not look at all we have and realize it all came from God to begin with and share as much of it as we possibly can. God looks on the heart and when He sees one of His kids sharing far more than most, He will rush a shipment of grace down immediately so as to provide all sufficiency in all things so that child may abound to every good work.
Please, before casting stones at me, stop and consider the "heart" of what I am saying. Love is sharing and sharing out of love is far better than out of law.
May I simply give you a hearty "Amen!"? In the last year God has been so faithful in showing me what it truly means to be a good steward, what it truly means to give and the simplicity of trusting all areas of our lives to Him, even our finances. Giving is a heart issue, not out of compulsion but out of love. It was through studying George Mueller with my kids that God really broke through to my heart. Thank you, well put and not a stone thrown from my direction! Blessings! Andrea
And another amen from here! I remember being concerned when I began tithing years ago, but the fact is I haven't missed the 10% at all and at many seasons of life we have given in excess of that 10%. I agree that the amount we "tithe" matters not to God, He is looking at our heart and faith when we give. God is not glorified when we give and grumble.
Now though, please forgive me and indulge me for what I am about to say because it may sound really picky and a matter of pure semantics, but I don't want to leave standng anything misspoken about God's character, particulary should this be read by someone who is not a believer or a baby believer. When you write that as a rule God does not repent, I have to say that God NEVER repents because He has nothing to repent from. Probably you mean that He relents. Because of His amazing and incomprehensible mercy and grace, God relents. And we do have several examples from the OT that show God relenting out of mercy.
Very thought-provoking blog, thanks!
How could a man like Manasseh come to repentance? How could God forgive Him? "...with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (see Matthew 19:26, or please read the whole chapter). Agreed, we shouldn't limit God to our own mental conceptions of Him.
Yes, God loves a cheerful giver. Naturally, God loves everyone, but He has a special "soft spot" in His heart for a cheerful giver, according to what I heard Dr. Michael Youssef teach last night.
It is true what you write about donating, Blessings. No stones are thrown by me in your direction. In my vocabulary, "tithing" has been replaced with "donating." And why stop at 10%?
If one tithes begrudgingly or out of duty, I suppose it would be about the same if they didn't tithe at all. If you're feeling that way, pray for God to renew your heart, and then give cheerfully again, as you did in the first place. I'm speaking to the reader here, not B2Y in particular.
I don't know anyone in the 6 or 7 income digit number so I can not speak for them as to what they do or don't give.
It matters not how much money a person may have, if they don't love God enough to share what He has given them it is the Church and all the ministries it supports that suffer the consequences. Then the government steps in and many complain that there is too much government involvement in the lives of people.
Giving does come from the heart, however hungry people still need to be feed.
:coffee: drinking coffee this morning