For a long time I struggled with how I saw and understood God the Father. I viewed Jesus as a kind and forgiving friend, the Holy Spirit as a gentle and encouraging teacher, but the Father… I understood him be a task master, unapproachable.
I knew so little.
After Philip asked the Lord Jesus to “show him the Father” the Lord said the following:
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?John 14:9
If I knew Jesus as kind and forgiving and the Spirit as gentle and encouraging, why did I not see my Father the same way?
I don’t think it was until the Holy Spirit directed me to this passage in Deuteronomy that he finally granted me repentance and a right understanding of my Heavenly Father.
In Deuteronomy 14 the Lord is giving Israel instruction about tithes. And I’ll address that passage below but before I do I need to first say this.
For so many Christians the issue of tithes is so very misunderstood. We see tithes as a obligation or a duty unto God. But in the New Covenant, that which is in the blood of Jesus and administered by the Holy Spirit by grace through faith we are no longer bound by the Mosaic law. We have now come under the Law of Christ.
Now the New Covenant does not nullify the Law of Moses but rather fulfills it and all its demands. Moreover, it superseded the demands of Moses. The demands of Jesus are total and complete. Where Moses was a shadow, Christ was the fulfillment.
“17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:17-20
So what is this new law, the Law of Christ? And how does this New Covenant help me to see the Father rightly?
In Galatians Paul says:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2
Bear one another’s burdens. So the Law of Christ is fulfilled in bearing the burdens of others…
Friends, who bore our burden?
What is not Christ the Lord?
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”1 Peter 2:24
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”Psalm 68:19
“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”John 13:15
So we see the Law of Christ exceeds the Law of Moses. Where Moses required giving a first portion, Christ demands all that you have. Not 10% percent, but all that you have belongs to Christ…
even your very life.
Where Moses was a shadow that was compelled by duty, “here’s my 10%”, Christ is the fulfillment that is motivated by love, “Lord all that I have is yours.”
And it was love that drove Christ to the cross.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”1 John 3:16
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.John 17:24
But ultimately, who’s love was first at work in Jesus Christ the Lord?
Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was to go to the cross, the Lord Jesus was overwhelmed with grief about what was in store for him.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”Matthew 26:39
So it was the will of the Father that sent Christ to the cross.
It was the love of a Father that would send his only Son, that which was most precious to him, to bear our sins on a Roman cross.
It was the Father’s love. The Father’s love.
So what does all this have to do with tithes? Well consider how God the Father explains tithes to Israel in Deuteronomy 14:
22“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.
28“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”Deuteronomy – 14:22-29
Do you hear the love of the Father here? Do you hear how the Father considers the frame, the weakness of his people and then…
bears their burden for them?
Why did the Father set down the Law of Moses and all its demands including tithes?
So that the Law of Christ, that which is administered through the Spirit by faith, which works by love, might one day be fulfilled in his precious Son Jesus.
You see the Father looked upon his people, he knew their frame, the number of the hairs on their heads, the days of their life he had appointed for them and in their weakness he made a way for them. And that way was by the blood of his own Son.
Knowing his great love would send his Son to the cross and the love of the Son would fulfill his purposes by the power and the love of the Holy Spirit, the Father could look at Israel and even under Moses… have mercy on them.
Knowing this love he shared with the Son and the Spirit would fulfill all his purposes; that the demands set forth by the Father through Moses would all be met in Christ by his own great love, he therefore lavished mercy and grace upon them. Upon them and we also, his church.
This is why the Father told them, “if the way is too long for you… spend it on whatever you like, whatever your appetite craves…”
The Father has no need of your tithe but he does want you to know his great love for you.
And it is only in the crosswork of Jesus that we know the Father’s love. The Father I once considered unapproachable, now bids me “come”.
14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16
And it is this work, the finished work of Jesus, that is now being wrought in his people by the Holy Spirit as they follow the example set forth by the Son.
No longer do they dutifully give their 10% as obligation but rather now being motivated by the Father’s great love for them they give all that they have.
They rend their hearts, the whole of them, moreover their very lives unto him, that by the cross and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings we might know the love of the Father in all its fullness.
Do you hear what the Spirit is saying here? Do you know the love of your Father? If you know the love of Jesus displayed in his cross then you know the love of the Father that called him there.
See Christ and so see his Father. See the Father as he is and he shall be a loving Father unto you as well.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guaranteed of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”Ephesians 1:3-14