Derek Prince – Tithing: How to Put God First
Extract from the book “Derek Prince on Experiencing God’s Power” pp 217-221.
“We have seen that God wants us to view our money as something holy. We mistakenly tend to think Of money as something dirty or unworthy. However, money is a part of us. When we offer our money, we are offering a major part of ourselves to God. We need to offer our money in worship to God, and our worship is only complete in this way.
We will now consider a simple way to put God first in handling our money that is both practical and scriptural. To honour God in our finances, we must first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and then honour the Lord with our Firstfruits. The key word is first all the way through. If we put money first rather than God, then we are idolaters.
A simple, practical, and scriptural way to put God first with your money is by consistently setting aside for God the first tenth of your income. This practice is traditionally known as tithing. Tithe comes from an Old English word meaning “the tenth” and is used in the King James Version. Tithing is the regular practice of setting apart the first tenth of your total income for God. When you do that, you have laid a foundation for honouring God with your money.
Tithing goes back to Abraham. Some Christians think that tithing was first instituted under the Law of Moses, but that is incorrect. Tithing is at least four hundred years older than the Law. Genesis 14:12-17 records that Abraham had just won a great battle over certain kings and, in winning the battle, he had gathered a great quantity of booty. The narration continues as follows:
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand” Genesis 14:18-20 NIV.
Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God, or God’s representative in the earth at that particular time, and he blessed Abraham. How did Abraham respond? Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had gained in victory.
It is important to see that Abraham is presented in the New Testament as a father and a pattern to all subsequent believers. Romans 4:11-12 states,
“So then, he [Abraham] is the father of all who believe… . And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised [which is at the time Melchizedek met him]” NIV.
In order to be children of Abraham, we must walk in the steps of Abraham’s faith. This includes handling our money the way Abraham handled his money. I n, the fourth chapter of Romans, Paul continued,
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all” Vs. 16 NIV.
Abraham is our father when we walk in the footsteps of his faith. And when we develop the same kind of faith he had, we will include the areas of finances and material possessions just as his faith did.
Now let us consider Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. Jacob became a refugee because of the way he had tricked Isaac, his father, and Esau, his brother. He left the land of inheritance and went off to seek his fortune in Mesopotamia; When he set out, all he had in his hand was one staff. This is what Jacob said in Genesis 28:20-22:
“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me will give you a tenth “” NIV.
Here we find tithing again In essence, Jacob said, “That’s the basis of my relationship with God. He provides my: needs, and in return, I give Him back a tenth of all that He provides for me.”
Then we read Jacob’s testimony twenty years later in Genesis 32:9-10:
“Then Jacob prayed, “0 God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, 0 LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper [notice that key word ‘prosper],’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups”” NIV.
Jacob had tremendous wealth, a very large family, and every need had been supplied. What was the reason? His faithfulness in tithing. He left with one staff, and he came back with abundance. The key was that he gave God the first tenth of everything that God provided for him.
As we further examine tithing among God’s people in the Old Testament, we find that under the Law of Moses, the tithe simply belonged to God. There was no question about this fact, which is verified in the following Scripture:
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD [the tithe is holy]…. The entire tithe of the herd and flock — every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod — will be holy to the LORD” Leviticus 27:30, 32 NIV.
The entire tithe is holy to the Lord. In Deuteronomy 14:22, God said, “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year” (NIV). That is tithing.
Many Christians are not aware of this, but in the New Testament, tithing reappears in the priesthood of Jesus. Hebrews 6:19 speaks about “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (NIV) and tells us,
“Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20 NIV).
So, Jesus is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
In the next chapter of Hebrews, the writer explained the part tithing played in the priesthood of Melchizedek and in the high priesthood of Jesus:
“Just think how great he [Melchizedek] was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people — that is, their brothers — even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. [Notice the emphasis on the tenth.] And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. [Abraham was lesser than Melchizedek because he was blessed by Melchizedek.] In the one case [the case of the Lord], the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living” Hebrews 7:4-8 NIV.
The priesthood of Melchizedek is an eternal priesthood because the one who is in this priesthood never dies. The writer states Jesus lives forever as a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. And in His priesthood He receives the tithes of His people.
We can see that tithing has a continuous history from Abraham onwards: from Abraham to Jacob, to the nation of Israel, and then to the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest. According to Scripture, when we set aside our first tenth and offer our tithe to Jesus, we are actually acknowledging that Jesus is our High Priest according to the priesthood of Melchizedek. This is one of the ways we are able to honour Him and acknowledge Him as our High Priest.”