11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
10th of March 2020 the Victorian Government released its Pandemic Plan.
11th of March 2020 the Vic Gov announced the creation of a State Control Center to oversee the plan.
15th of March the Vic Gov announced a $100 million package to boost the Health System capacity.
18th of March, another $6 for “homelessness” for ‘pop up accomodation’. And the first restrictions of gatherings to a maximum of 100 people indoors.
19th of March, the Vic Government announced almost half a billion dollars for the Health system to respond to the pandemic.
On the 21st march, another $1.7 Billion dollar “Economic Survival Package” was anounced to pay for the disaster the Victorian Government were creating.
Between 22nd and 24th more packages were announced as the Government instituted economic and liberty Leprocy began to touch the entire population of Victoria.
Stage 2 restrictions began on the 25th of March. All “NON-Essential Services” temporarily closed. Brothels and Liquor dealers however, were permitted to trade as usual.
Over $2.5 billion dollars had been allocated in Victoria, when not even a single death from this Dangerous disease was recorded.
On the 26th of March, the first person in Victoria was recorded as dying “With Covid”.
4 days later the Captivity of Victorians began.
It ended one year and 208 days later on 26th of October, 2021
For over 500 days Victorians were treated like Lepers.
Throughout this time many Christians, and especially the Christians who are members within this Church, God had done so many marvellous works and faith grew to levels in hearts that were wonderful to behold.
Christians sought out this small Church as a refuge and we attended to so many wonderful things and we saw God move in ways that we have never seen before during a single period of our lives.
But how many have returned to give glory to God?
How many have forgotten his wonderful works and have become apathetic in devotion and ministry?
Tithing is a reflection of our dependance upon God, our acknowledgement of him, our devotion to him, our trust in him and our OBEDIENCE.
While there is little doubt there are many in this Church so young in their faith that they are not aware of this responsibility, and while there are some who are continually faithful in this work, there are also many who have long known of this doctrine who have long excused it, to whom the passage in Hosea seems most suited.
Over the next couple of sermons you will learn of the doctrine of Tithes and Offerings. You will learn of its institution as far back as the first descendants of Adam, and its continuance after the death, burial and resurrection of the Saviour that cured our own Leprosy, that washed our Sins completely away.
You will learn of Tithing as a practical giving of thanks, particularly in the New Testament and how it differs from the Old Testament.
The People of Judah were taken into captivity for 70 years, now, during the time of Hosea, they have been home for at least a decade and they had forgotten all his wonderful works.
Few indeed had returned to give Glory to God, and now his house and ministry lay waste.
A perfect Picture of modern Christianity in these Laodicean days.
My question to you this morning is how many of those in this Church, including its members, align with the heart of the Laodicean Church of this time?
How many are numbered with the apathy of Judah, to permit the house and ministry of the Lord to lay waste?
How many could be described with the 9 cleansed that will not return to live in thanksgiving?
For those of you who already are faithful in this ministry, I ask that you be patient and also confident that your faithfulness is well placed and rewarded.
For those of you who have never understood or known the doctrine of Tithes and Offerings, I do pray you will desire to hear and learn of how the Lord sees it and how it affects our lives.
For those who have long known of the doctrine, and refused God this ministry, learn of how the Lord sees your faithlessness and repent.
Please know of my love for you as I preach this message this morning.
Please know of Gods love as he rebukes many of you. His desire is that you will live your life trusting him by faith, for it is the key to Joy.
THE DOCTRINE/PRINCIPLE OF TITHING
Let’s look at the passage again so we have it fresh in mind.
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. 11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
The people of Israel have been in captivity for seventy years and have recently returned to the Land and began attending to the work of the Lord and then stopped.
They began thankfully and rejoicingly, even crying with joy and blessing to the Lord as they laid the foundation of the House of the Lord when they first returned, saying in Ezra 3;
11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
But it did not take long before the zeal and thanks they had for the Lord had dried up and, rather than persist in giving for his work, they feathered their own nests and attended to their own wants and desires.
…This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. (V2)
From the time of Abraham through to this very day there is a principle set for the people of God to give financially and provisionally for the work of the Lord. This has never changed. It was indeed for all people since the Time of Adams life, evidently a principle set since the time of the Fall of Mankind when everything changed.
Sadly, the nature of most of God people has ever changed. From the time of Israel’s deliverance, to after our own deliverance, little has changed in the hearts of the majority.
There are ALWAYS some who faithfully and continually give to the work of the Lord, and there are always those who give every excuse imaginable to avoid their responsibility in this effort; they say with the ancient Israelites;
The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. (V2).
The gratefulness of the ancient people of God for releasing them from seventy years of captivity for their past sin and idolatry was soon forgotten, so too it is for the modern people of the Lord who’s captivity to sin and death, who’s Leprosy, has been washed away the blood of Jesus of Jesus Christ.
We see the doctrine specific to tithing first appear when Abraham met, who could ONLY be described as a pre-incarnate figure of Christ, in a man named Melchizedek.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
This continued through Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis 28 when he had a vision of a ladder that extended to heaven and he concluded;
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
After-which, the entire Levitical priesthood received of the people of God their respective gifts throughout their generations. We see this commanded in Leviticus 27, the “Tithe of the land” (v30), the tithe of redemption with another fifth added (v31), the tithe of the herd and flock(v32).
It goes on into the book of Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 12, 14, 26, extending into 2 Chron 31 and even until they returned from captivity in Nehemiah 10, 12, 13, Amos 3, Malachi 3.
In those many passages are presented examples of the doctrine of the people.
BUT there is ALSO presented the consequence to the people.
Both the blessing for faithfulness and CURSING for unfaithfulness are CLEARLY, not figuratively, not subjectively, not arbitrarily, but CLEARLY presented. The people had NO excuse.
As an example of this lets look back at our passage in Haggai.
I Will Blow Upon It
4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
The passage here tells us that, due to the unfaithfulness of the people in contributing to the House of the Lord, they seem to sow much, but bring in little.
All this energy, but not much fruit for all their labor.
They eat, but never have enough, drink but aren’t filled, clothed but not warm.
Then suddenly this portion of the passage would hit them.
he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
It seems God has a way of “Garnishing” the wages of the people when they refuse to give voluntarily.
The Court systems of nations have the power to take directly from the pay packets of employees both that which is owed + Interest penalties against all who refuse to pay their respective obligations.
Its seems to almost have its origin in Haggai.
Not only is their work unfruitful, but they have no ability to be satisfied with anything they attempt, they eat away their sorrows but its not enough, they drink away their emptiness but never filled, and no amount of clothing will satisfy the chill in their bones. Yet it’s not until they try to keep their wages in store that God tears a hole in their savings.
But the passage does not yet end.
9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. 11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
- We won’t Give to the Lord till we have paid OFF that debt, and so the Lord has blown upon it, for he desire we might honour him first.
- We will wait until we have gained that raise in our income, then, then we can afford to give to the Lord, but again he may ‘blow upon it’ for we ought to honour him first.
- We wait until we have the abundance Jesus spoke of compared to the faithfulness of the Widows Mite’s in Mark 12:44…..but God BLOWS UPON IT.
ALL EXCUSE for putting off faithfulness come flooding back while God garnishes our desires.
Haggai’s writing is quite different to the Pentecostal Prosperity Gospel. There are some truths there, but not here. In this passage God rebukes those who KNOW better but refuse to give to his purpose.
The first message in this series respecting Faith as being our ONLY Key To Joy, was to Honour Him First.
So it is for the people of God here.
Another passage refers to them by Gods perspective in a startling way.
Turn in your Bibles to;
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
In this passage it is clear that it is to Gods own people he lays this charge.
The people of God have long known of their obligation to give to the Lord that which was due him, but have refused.
The charge is laid at the feet of all people of God, who, like a shoplifter, excuse to pay for goods and services rendered with all the same excuses;
– I can’t afford to pay the shop keeper for x
– The shop keeper can afford the loss of it.
– The shop keeper will never know.
– I don’t think the shop keeper should get this much for that service.
– I’ll pay with some biscuits and paper cups.
– I’ll work in his shop at the end of the day for 20 minutes….
– I’ll pay ANOTHER shop for the service and good, not the one I receive it from.
Exchange “the shop keeper” for God and we are not far off the similarity of rationality between a shoplifter and that of a recalcitrant Christian.
Rebellious Christians have long given a multitude of excuses for not giving to the Lord. The smile to the Shop keeper and tell him how much they appreciate his service, while they steal that which is due him.
Jesus said of such people;
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:7–8
In the passage in Malachi, God perceives the present, true state of the heart that refuses to give to the Lord that which is due him, that characteristic is evidently one of a thief.
Quite incredible, and a little frightening. And yet at the same time it is truly difficult to deny the logic.
IT IS GODS MONEY
First of all we see in this passage Gods claim that it is HIS TITHES AND OFFERINGS they are refusing to give.
Verse 8, 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Clearly therefore, there is at the very LEAST a percentage of the increase in the financial receipts of Gods people that belong to God, BUT the people are retaining it for themselves.
God could justly lay claim on it all, for it was BY HIM they prosper.
Turn to the New Testament, 1 Cor 16 for a direct reference.
1 Corinthians 16:1–2
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
In the OLD Testament, the principal was established as a “Tithe”, that is, at least a tenth of all God has given to his people is to be return to him for his specific purpose.
Those who retained it are referred to by him as THIEVES, because they (quote) “Rob God”, rob him of what? “In tithes and offerings”.
So too is the expectation in the New Testament, but it is even more challenging than that of the Old, as it is not LIMITED to a tenth, and I will explain that in detail in the next sermon.
In short, the Principle of Law is seen in the Old Testament, the establishment of appreciation and thanks is seen in the New Testament.
The point however remains, the Principal of Giving back to God A PROPORTION, “as God hath prospered him” writes Paul, continues in the New Testament to our day.
Therefore beloved, it is equally true that those who robbed God in the Old Testament, also rob God in the New.
I know for many of you this is challenging, and though I do not wish to temper the tone of the text too much to placate you, you must understand that the logic applied by God in the passage is the exact SAME LOGIC YOU APPLY in your own lives when you feel (quote) “Ripped OFF”.
- Do you not charge with thievery employers unwilling to pay that which is rightfully due you?
- How often have you checked your pay packet to ensure ALL the hours are accounted AND PAID FOR?
- How many go on strike in the streets to protest this “thievery” of income by those they work for?
- A year ago this month, one million people protested in the streets of France when the Government stretched the retirement pension an additional 2 years from 62 to 64 years of age. WHY? Because they believed the Government was stealing their “Entitlements”.
- Have you seen the violence in Port Moresby this last week? Nine people have been killed, stores have been burnt, looting and rioting has exploded due to the anger of the people because the Government have CUT THEIR WAGES.
Tell me beloved, why is it just for you and I to get angry when people steel from us that which is rightfully due, but not just for God to charge us with robbing from him?
If we are so ready to charge with sin, sinful agencies who care ONLY for their OWN profit, how much more right does God have who desires a return to him a PROPORTION OF that which he has PROSPERED YOU?
We do have a thief in the New Testament that THIEVED FROM GOD even more blatantly, and it is worth seeing if there are ANY similarities in attitude.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Here is the thief among Gods people who complains to God how he should spend his money.
I have spoken to Pastors even in the last few months respecting this very same tendency, that those who WILL NOT GIVE to God ALSO tend to have the loudest voices against how the Church should spend its money.
There is no doubt the thieves of the Old Testament also hypocritically complain about how the assembly uses that for which they do not contribute.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
“Cursed”. Here the passage in Malachi we have a meeting with our passage in Haggai.
Bags With Holes
This brings me to my final point, and the title of this sermon. Bags With Holes.
Beloved, it is time to think differently.
We have forgotten the blessing we have been so wonderfully blessed with. We have experienced the cure of our Leprosy and now we see the world through the TRUTH and REALITY of all that the Bible teaches.
All that we see around us today confirms the Bible as true, is not all that pertains to our money ALSO TRUE?
Now, far too many are putting their wages into bags with holes. God is able to close those holes, but before he does so we ought to honour him first.
5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
In verse 9 the Lord testifies that the ALL people expected to bring home and keep for themselves would be blown away;
9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it.
Verses 10 and 11 he restrains the dew and restricts the earth from bringing forth of her fruit, even more than what was restricted after the fall in Genesis 3 it would seem. But MORE than that in verse 11, he calls for a drought, but not only upon the land, upon the corn and wine, the oil and even on men and cattle and last of which, “upon all the labour of the hands”,the implication related directly to your ability either to work, or to find work.
To deny any gain in employments they may seek after, God sends a DROUGHT!
Whether that be due to poor health or poor economics, or the GOVERNMENT restricting their opportunities; whatever the means the Lord employs, he will employ to make the robber Malachi speaks of, pay for his theft of the Lord.
You and I are seriously limited in our ability to make the thief pay, God is not.
But PLEASE understand, the LORD does not purpose to impoverish, but to bless.
The Lord desires repentance and it grieves him, as it does ANY father or mother when they chastise those they love. They desire hearts turned again and when the heart turns back to the Lord; he BLESSES THEM WITH ABUNDANCE.
We will indeed talk more about this blessing to encourage you in the next message. The ‘Instruction in righteousness’ portion of this topic is next, but for now we needed to hear the “doctrine, the reproof, and the correction” before “the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
Though wages may now be placed into a bag with holes, there is within both passages of Haggai and Malachi the opportunity of blessing for faithfulness to all who repent.
We turn to the most serious of the passages we read this morning, that for which God has inferred thievery might encourage us most.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
Beloved, this is the principle of Tithing, and these are results of both unfaithfulness and faithfulness, this is both the doctrine and the reproof and the correction.
Fallow ground needs to be broken up before it is suited to planting that which will bear good fruit.
Keys need to be cut before they are suited to unlocking a door, The Key to Joy is Faith.
I only pray the the fallow ground of your hearts have been broken up a little this morning, that you might bare fruit. I truly do pray that the KEY of FAITH may have come a good way to being properly cut in you, that you may learn what real JOY is.
My calling to you dear brethren is not to keep you comfortable. I did not begin this Church seven years ago to placate and fluff the pillows of sleeping Christians. I do not side with the 9 who refused to give God thanks and I pray I never will.
For God has no desire to diminish your life, but to increase it…
Jesus said, in John 10:10;
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Stop putting your wages into a bag with holes, and learn the pure JOY that comes from trusting Jesus with ALL THAT YOU HAVE.
Be the ONE that turns around to always give God thanks. He not only preserved us through an evil captivity, but cured us all from the Leprosy of sin..