“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it…” (Psalm 24:1-2) Our Wise and Benevolent Creator made all things, and to Him belongs the possession of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 14:19). He tells us, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8) If it pleased our God, He could sustain His purposes on the earth by the sole intervention of angels. He might ever sustain His people with the food of angels as He did in the wilderness of Arabia (Psalm 78:25), or by the beasts of the earth and the fowl of the heaven (1 Kings 17:4). Yet when it comes to the sustaining of His priestly ministration on earth, Infinite Wisdom has ordained a more excellent way to supply for the work of the gospel.
THE QUALITIES OF THE PRIESTHOOD
The Most High would preserve and advance the knowledge of His way on the earth. For this cause, He has always had a people on earth to maintain, uphold, and instruct the standard of faith. From Adam to Melchizedek, He had not failed to have those who faithfully represented His name on the earth. Divine Wisdom foresaw that if He was to have a people on earth representing Him, it must not be after the manner of the heathen whose fathers had rebelled from the truth, and who knew not God.
“The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.” (Matt. 20:25) The Gentile rulers represented their gods after the manner and character of their gods. They exercised rigorous servitude from the subjects of their kingdom, that they might be served of them. God permitted that His people should become servants in the land of Egypt, that their experience as servants might be translated into Kingly exaltation when He delivered them from that land. It was in this way that He would raise up representatives who would faithfully represent Him as meek and humble Servant-Kings, faithfully after His manner and character. Said the Lord, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28)
He chose the tribes of Israel to represent Him as a Kingly Priesthood to the nations. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
The purpose of this priesthood was to instruct all nations regarding the knowledge of the true God of Israel, prophecy regarding the coming Messiah, and teach transgressors the way of the law of God.
Of the qualities ever-possessed by His chosen priesthood, the Word of God tells us: “The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with Me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 2:6-7)
This was to be the calling of the tribes of Israel, to be a Kingdom of Servant Priests, instructing the nations regarding (1) the knowledge of God and (2) the law of truth, and (3) turning many away from iniquity, as they (4) walked with Him. However, all but one tribe sinned against God and forfeited their right to serve as His priests; as sin can never rightly represent the One who is altogether righteous. When they turned away and worshipped the golden calf of Amen-Ra, the chief god of the Egyptians, they unfitted themselves for being His representatives. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
One tribe of Israel was chosen to represent Him. The tribe of Levi. These did not turn from the worship of the true God to the gods of the nations where they came out from. Neither did they did not turn aside from His law. As a result, the Levites were chosen to be His faithful representatives from among Israel, to reconcile rebellious Israel, that they might be a light to the nations.
Anciently, to support His faithful representatives, a system of benevolence was instituted. It was called Tithing. “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 27:30)
The tithe means “tenth” in Hebrew. When Jacob had vowed to serve the God of his fathers, he said, ‘of all that You shall give me I will surely give the tenth unto You.” (Gen. 28:22) The tithe was to be given to His priesthood in order to sustain His cause on the earth.
The Tithe was not to be used freely as anyone should choose. Those who had their inheritance in the earth were to give the tithe from their increase, which they received in having earthly riches. Of all that God supplied, they were to give to the Levite priest who had no inheritance among the rest of the tribes of Israel. Regarding the Levite, God commanded, “Thou shalt not forsake him, for he has no part, nor inheritance with you.”
Those who had their lot in this present world, having regular lines of employment in the tilling of their fields, the cultivation of the land, while having flocks and herds to take care of, were not to receive of the tithe. But rather those who gave themselves over wholly to the work of the priesthood, serving in the holy things to the people, being a light to the nations, turning many away from iniquity.
This was not only given as a statute to sustain the Levitical priesthood. As stated earlier, Jacob knew the law regarding tithing, and of all of his increase, he would give a tenth as an acknowledgement that God had provided for him, whether it was little or much. Likewise, Abraham observed the law of tithing more than 430 years before the law was detailed in writing by Moses. Thus showing that there was a knowledge of the law of God before it was written in detailed form by Moses (See Gen. 26:5). As God blessed Abraham, Abraham returned tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God, of whom it was said, “he [Abraham] gave him tithes of all.” (Gen. 14:20) The priesthood of Melchizedek had preceeded the Levitical order by hundreds of years. The Levites had inherited a written form of instructions regarding his priesthood, of which Christ, and those who are faithfully representing Him, are partakers of.
God calls us today to return the tithe to support His priests today, who preserve a true knowledge of Him, His laws, and His prophecies upon the earth. As that same qualification for the priesthood then exists today in respect to purity and holiness. The same priesthood Melchizedek is a partaker of, we are called to be a part of in the Son of God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” (1 Peter 2:9)