Kingdom Taxes to Fund Government--Part 2
Dec 23, 2008
Kingdom government ceased to be a political and geographical expression when God put the people of Israel and Judah into captivity for their continued violation of His law and when they continually refused to repent. Since that time, the Kingdom of God withdrew from the national into the personal. In other words, the Kingdom, Jesus said, is within you.
This means God intends for us to keep the hope (expectation) alive within our hearts for the day when the captivity ceases. When Daniel's prophecy of the Stone Kingdom is fulfilled, the Babylonian Kingdom (as a political entity) will be ground to powder, to put it in Daniel's terms. Then the Stone will grow to fill the whole earth.
The application of the tithe had to change when it could no longer support a Kingdom government as such. In essence, since God had sold His people to Babylon, He expected His people to work for Babylon. That is a simple matter of the biblical law of redemption. The sinner (debtor) is sold to the redeemer, the redeemer assumes responsibility for the debt, and the sinner is responsible to work for the redeemer.
It is not meant to be an ideal situation, so naturally there is much injustice and hardship in captivity. But that is no excuse for being rebellious against those to whom God sold the people.
So our question is whether or not the law of tithing is even applicable in captivity. Secondly, if applicable, who should get the money?
Perhaps we can look at an actual precedent in Scripture. When the people demanded a king, God gave them Saul. Samuel told the people in 1 Sam. 8:15 and 17 that he would confiscate the tithe for himself:
" (15) And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give it to his officers and to his servants. . . (17) He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. (18) Then you will cry out in that day, because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day."
Saul, of course, was crowned on the day of wheat harvest (i.e., Pentecost) in 1 Sam. 12:17, so this makes him a prophetic type of the Church under Pentecost, especially in its political expression. (Eli is the priestly expression.) Part of the divine judgment--or natural consequence--is that this Church-type was going to demand the tithes for his own servants, instead of it going to the ones truly called to receive it.
In Saul's day, the Levites were called to receive the tithe, and they, in turn, were to tithe to the priests. Lev. 18:26-28 says,
" (26) Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites . . . When you take from the sons of Israel your tithe which I have given you from them, for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe. . . (28) So you shall also present an offering to the Lord from your tithes, which you shall receive from the sons of Israel and from it you shall give the Lord's offering to Aaron the priest.
In biblical law there was a separation of "Church and State." Moses was the first head of State, while Aaron was the first head of the Church. The people, the citizens, the congregation was the Church, so it would be more accurate to say that both were heads of the Church, but Moses was over the civil government, while Aaron was over the religious/legal/spiritual side of government.
Moses was a Levite, but his brother Aaron was the priest. Both were of the tribe of Levi, of course, but a division of labor was instituted at that time to separate the civil from the judicial branches of government. And so, if there arose a dispute that could not be resolved, the disputants were to go to court to settle the matter. Deut. 17:9 says,
"So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them, and they will declare to you the verdict in the case."
The priests normally heard such cases at the gate of the town, which served as an open court. The other Levites normally had other clerical duties, keeping the municipal records, and they were answerable to the King--the civil head.
As for the tithe, it was given to the Levites, but the Levites then gave a "tithe of the tithe" to the priests, as shown earlier. In effect, this portrays a very important principle of Kingdom government. Governmental power is largely measured by its monetary base. Money is power, as they say, because the more money one receives, the more responsibilities one is given. The Levites receiving the tithe represented local, municipal government, and they were given 90% of the tithe (taxes) for support.
The other 10% of the tax revenue went for the support of the priests (judges) for maintenance of the lawful order. This was one of the primary functions of a priest in those days, because they were supposed to be the experts on biblical law. Realize, of course, that they were not only to study the law itself, but to have a spiritual life whereby they could know the mind of God, His intent and purpose for each law. If everything went well, he would apply the law by the mind of Christ with the perfect balance of justice and mercy.
For these services, he was paid out of the tithe of the tithe. These priests were also to teach the people and to provide legal counsel/advice at all times. Legal advice was always free of charge. These same priests were to teach the law (mind of Christ) each Sabbath as well.
It is not hard to see the application to the Church today. The primary difference is that the New Testament has given us a further division of labor. Instead of a simple priesthood that did it all, we now have a five-fold ministry (Eph. 4:11, 12), creating different kinds of priests, each having different spiritual gifts.
Local government, then, has the most power and responsibility. National government does not appear to be entitled to any taxes at all, although King Saul stole the tax unlawfully as a power grab. Church leaders were supposed to be experts in the laws of the Kingdom, so that they were capable of explaining the will of God to the people any time a question arose. As experts in law, the Church priests are to function as the judges to settle disputes that naturally arise.
Hence, Paul chides the Corinthians for going to the Greek judges to settle their disputes, instead of going to the Church ministers. In 1 Cor. 6 we read,
" (1) Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? (2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest courts?"
Paul finds himself in a position of having to judge from afar the immorality among them (6:1, 13) and to give them a short lesson on biblical law in 7:9, 10,
" (9) Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, (10) nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
The problem in Paul's day did not go away. It is difficult to maintain the Kingdom of God within our hearts when our host nation legislates its own laws and appoints judges schooled in man's law.
This is the second part of a series titled "Kingdom Taxes to Fund Government." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones