Summary: We've looked at the little things and the big things, this message looks at the main thing.
It’s almost over, can you feel it in the air? Almost an electricity as people wait expectantly for April to be over. They don’t care what Denn will be preaching next week or the week after that they just know it won’t be about Money. By the way next week I will be preaching on Sin. Which leads me to a funny story that has nothing to do with this week’s message. That is the joy of combining my ADHD tendencies with sermon preparation. Look a squirrel.
The story is told that when Calvin Coleridge was president he had to attend church alone one Sunday because his wife was sick. Now obviously the President didn’t always pay attention to the message because when he got home his wife quizzed him and asked “So what did the pastor preach on?” The president thought for a moment and replied “Sin.” “And what did he say about sin?” probed his wife. The president thought again and replied “he was against it.”
But that’s next week.
Two weeks ago I preached on the little things, the minutia, the details, and we looked at Luke 8:2-3 Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. And we looked at that last line who were contributing their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. And some of you commented to me after the message that you never really stopped and thought about the practical aspects of Christ’s ministry and how those needs were met. What they ate, where they slept and what they did when their sandals wore out. The little things, the minutia, the details. The same type of needs that have to be met in churches all over the world to one degree or another and here at Cornerstone specifically. And Then I looked at the reasons why these folks gave out of their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. They gave because they loved Jesus and They gave because they believed in the mission.
And then last week we looked at the big things, and specifically we looked back into 1 Chronicles 29:3 “And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple.”
This was the beginning of what would be the biggest project ever embarked upon by the people of Israel, what some people today would refer to as a BHAG or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a term first made popular by Jim Collins the author of “From Good to Great”.
And in last week’s message we looked at the sacrifices that were made to build this temple, by the King, his leaders and the people of Israel. And the bottom line was they gave for two reasons: They gave because they loved God and they gave because they believed in the mission.
So we looked at the little things and we looked at the big things, and those who gave to meet both those needs. This week I want to look at the main thing, the thing that both groups had in common. Yes they did give, they gave sacrifically and they gave in order to express their love for God and their belief in the mission. But there is something else they shared. You see all the people involved were Jews who lived under Jewish law including Leviticus 27:30 “One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.” And so before the people of Israel contributed to the temp of Godtemple they paid their tithe and before Mary and Susanna and Joanna and the others gave from their own resources in order to support Jesus and the disciples they paid their tithe.
Tithe is one of those churchy words, and sometimes those of us in the church suffer from the curse of too much knowledge. We know what a certain words means and we assume that everybody else does as well, but there are some questions that I hear from time to time about tithing , and we’ll try to answer those this morning.
The first is The What of the Tithe? In its simplest form tithe simply means a tenth. In the Greek the word that is used is δεκάτη or Dekate. “Dec” you know like decade is ten years or The Decalogue is the Ten Commandments, and a decapod is a creature with ten legs like a lobster or a crab. The decimal system is based on the number 10 and in the old Roman Calendar December was the Tenth month and decametre is 10 metres. But that isn’t the way it is normally used, it is normally used to mean a tenth that is given to God or to the church. And it was first mentioned in Genesis 14 where we are introduced to a mysterious King and Priest by the name of Melchizedek. The only introduction we have is in Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. That’s really all we know about him, he was the King of Salem, a priest of God Most High and he brought Abraham some bread and wine. After this incident we don’t hear from him again until Psalm 110 and then nothing until the New Testament Book of Hebrews.