Since early October, a group of women from my church have been getting together every Friday morning and doing Bible study about Gideon. A few weeks ago, we talked about the terms "suzerain" and "vassal". Now while I was familiar with the term vassal, I had never heard the term suzerain before.
A suzerain is basically an overlord to whom fealty is due. A vassal is someone who has declared fealty to the overlord and has placed themselves under the protection of the overlord. They have vowed to pay homage to and pledged their loyalty to the lord.
If you were asked who is your "suzerain", you would probably say God but is He? Do we really acknowledge His authority or do we only acknowledge it when it pleases us or when it is convenient for us to do so? I have to tell you that after reading the question I just typed, I found myself squirming a bit.
There is more. You see, the vassal does not own the land they live on. Everything they have belongs to the suzerain. It is only by his leave that they possess anything at all. He permits them to work the land and enjoy the benefits of it however, a portion of what they receive, whether it is in the form of crops or livestock, must be returned to the suzerain. In the Bible this is referred to as tithing.
So often, when we think of tithing, we think that we are being generous to a minister we may or may not like at all. How foolish we are! We are not giving what belongs to us. As the vassal gives to the suzerain in acknowledgement that the suzerain is his lord and that he has pledged himself to the suzerain, our tithe is exactly the same thing. We acknowledge that all that we have comes from God and that He is the one who provides for and sustains us. We are pledging our allegiance to God, demonstrating that we belong to Him and we are not His lord, we are His servant.
Do we behave like we are God's vassals or do we act like we are God's suzerain?
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