Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#390 THE GOD OF OF ALL GRACE IS OUR GOD,
God moves in a mysterious way. So often, we find the things that seem so bitter in our lives to be like the saying, "The bud may be bitter, but sweet is the flower. God is His own Interpreter, and He will make it all plain." God's ways are so much higher than our ways, and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, Cf. ISA 55:9. God brings His purposes to pass, in His infinite wisdom which are accomplished in spite of all our foolishness and our shortcomings.
In the biography of Abraham, the Lord identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, i.e., the God of our election. It is of nothing in or on us that causes God to choose us. It is of His own free, sovereign election that He has chosen and loved us from before the foundation of the world. In GEN 26:24, we read, "And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father [The Lord is speaking to Isaac as the God of Isaacs father, Abraham.]: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake." The multitude of blessings that God places on His dear children are the blessings that He has decreed from before we were born. When God was speaking to Isaac about the blessings of the God of Abraham, it was because of His own electing love, not because Isaac was a man who had done so righteously before God. It was because Abraham was His chosen servant, and God had loved Abraham from all eternity and would multiply Isaacs seed "for my servant Abrahams sake."
In the biography of Isaac, the Lord identifies Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac, i.e., the God of our election and His work of regeneration in our soul. It is God who has chosen, and it is God who has regenerated us, i.e. quickened us and given us new desires. It is the God of heaven who works regeneration in the soul of man. GEN 28:13 states, "And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac [Here we see that God has revealed to Jacob the blessed ladder that came down from heaven to the earth to the very place where Jacob lay. He was a fugitive. He was fleeing from the justly provoked wrath of his brother. He was fleeing the consequences of his own sin. Right in such a place, God comes down with His ladder to the very place where Jacob is and says, I am the God of Abraham and of Isaac, thy father.]: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." The Lord pronounces the blessings of Abraham upon this fugitive Jacob.
I become so much more generous toward those who are outside of Christ when I learn to see how it is only of Gods grace that He has brought me into His kingdom. It is only the goodness of God that He chose me. It is only of grace. It is only the divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon my heart that has caused me to want to serve the Lord. When I understand this and see someone who is outside of that influence of the Holy Spirit, I lay with my face upon the ground and say, "Lord, wouldst Thou draw them with the working of Thy grace? Why is it that they still wander from Thee? It is only because they have not yet had that divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon their heart." Instead of becoming critical of my fellowman, I should become very humble before the Lord. I can understand why God hated Esau, but why did He love Jacob? Jacob was no different than Esau. Why did He love me? Why did He work His grace in my heart and draw me unto Himself? I must come before the Lord and beg for my fellowman.
The biography of Jacob teaches us that the Lord is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In other words, Hes not only the God of my election; Hes not only the God of the work of regeneration in my soul, but Hes the God of all grace who has worked in my heart "to will and to do of his good pleasure," PHI 2:13. In EXO 3:6, we read, "Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." God has identified Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of our election, our regeneration, and the God of all grace. He is the God who works the grace of His Spirit in our hearts. This is the God of regeneration and of all grace who has spoken to Moses.
These names whereby the Lord identifies Himself are very significant. When the Lord sent Moses unto the children of Israel while they were in sore bondage in Egypt, He told Moses to speak to them in the name of the God of their fathers. He not only told Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," but see what He told Moses in EXO 3:15: "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." For all eternity, this was the name whereby the God of heaven will identify Himself. This is so significant to the children of Israel for more than one reason. One reason is that when God sent His servant Moses unto the children of Israel and told Moses to identify Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it was to tell them that God had chosen them, had regenerated them, and had come to work grace in their souls. It had become personal to them, but not only that, it was also for the strengthening of faith.
When the Lord allows you and me to look back and see the promises that He has given and how in His providence, He has fulfilled many of those promises, then He will also fulfill what He has promised, and it will take place in the end. God had promised Abraham that His children would be brought into a land where they will serve in bondage for 400 years, but that He would deliver them. The children of Israel are looking to that promise given to Abraham. God had said, "This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." The Lord is saying, "When I fulfill that promise and have delivered you out of Egypt and brought you into that Promised Land that I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it will be a memorial to all generations." It will be a wonder of wonders that will never be forgotten for all time.
This memorial is a consolation for God's dear children, but when Moses was sent to speak to the uncircumcised king of Egypt, he was told to identify Him as the "God of Israel". Moses was sent to tell the children of Israel that God was the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," but when Moses was sent to talk to Pharaoh, God was the "God of Israel."
We read in EXO 5:1: "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." Israel was a nation in bondage in Egypt. When Moses spoke to the children of Israel and identified God as the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," it was to give them the faith and courage to believe that God had come to fulfill the promise that He had given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Moses spoke to Pharaoh, however, God called Himself "the LORD God of Israel." The Lord wanted Pharaoh, who was a type of the world, to know that He is the God of the living, i.e., the God of today, the present. He was talking about being the God of that people that Pharaoh held in bondage. He was not only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He was the God of the living, of those who were there, today, in bondage. He is the God of the present.
The Lord does not change. As well as He was the God of Abraham generations back, so also He is the God of today. He was the God of Israel who was presently being held in bondage. We read in HEB 1:10-12: "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest [God does not alter.]; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." God is the same God. The God that promised Abraham is the identical, same God who is there today to fulfill what He promised to Abraham. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are gone. Three generations have gone but God has not altered. The promise that He gave Abraham is as firm as the foundation on which our salvation stands, and that is the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Neither the Lord, nor His will for us today has ever seen any change. What the Lord has spoken from eternity is the eternal Word of God, and it does not alter. You and I alter, and we go from generation to generation. One generation comes, and another generation goes, but the Word of the Lord will stand firm forever. In JOH 8:56-58, we read, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. [The Lord Jesus Christ was saying that Abraham saw the day of Jesus by faith, and Abraham was glad.] Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus is the great I AM from eternity to eternity; nothing alters. Abraham was, but "Before Abraham was, I am."
Our Saviour, who spoke the world into existence by the power of His Word, speaks with the same authority to us in His Word today. It is the same authority by which He said, "Let there be light: and there was light," GEN 1:3. With that same power and authority, He speaks to us today in His Word. There is authority in His Word. After His decease, resurrection, and ascension unto the right hand of His Father listen t what the the apostle Paul says:
HEB 13:7-9, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow [Paul is not saying to remember those who have spoken to you what they have learned in the university or remember those who have spoken to you and say they have received some great insight into the Word, but rather those who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow. Dont follow the faith of those who are talking to you about some insight, translation, or interpretation that they have of the Word, but follow the faith of those who say, 'Thus saith the Lord.], considering the end [or intent, meaning] of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." That same Jesus Christ who said, "Let there be light: and there was light," is the same "yesterday, and to day, and for ever." What is the admonition that goes along with this unchanging, eternal Word of God? Verse 9 continues, "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines."
We are going to see the day when men are going to take the Word of God and say that it is old and outdated. Some churches today want to eliminate the first five books of the Bible completely because they think they are some sort of a myth. They are not willing to accept those books as the Word of God, but casting them out would eliminate the entire history of the book of Genesis. Look at any building. The larger the building, the more significant it is. Take the foundation out from under it and see how soon it falls. The book of Genesis is the foundation of the very existence of God. The foundation of the gospel begins in the book of Genesis. Thats where we learn of the creation. Thats where we learn of the unchangeable decrees of God and the very foundation of His Word. That is where the gospel was first proclaimed. There, we learn the fall of man and the need for repentance. That is the foundation of the gospel, and yet, it has become antiquated in churches who want to eliminate the first five books of the Bible. Satan has convinced them through some theological training that they are just an allegory. God says, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." In other words, "I am the same yesterday, to day, and for ever." He is an unchanging God. When we look at the God of the present, and learn to understand the God of eternity and see Him in His creation, in His electing decrees, His work of regeneration, and in His work of grace in the heart, which are taught in the book of Genesis, we can see the very foundation of the gospel.
The life of Jacob teaches us that the Lord is not only the God of our fathers, whose wonders are recorded in these biographies, but He becomes our personal God for today. From the biography of Jacob, we learn that God is the God of the present tense, the same God who created the world by the Word of His power.
GEN 28:15 states, "And, behold, I am with thee [Notice the present tense. We must understand Gods presence in the present tense today, I am with thee], and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." See the personal nature of God. God is not only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the God of Israel, but He is MY God. It must become a personal matter. He is MY God, and He says, "I am with thee." You and I come to a place in our lives where we lay with our head on a rock, but we must also understand what it is to see that ladder come down from heaven so that the Lord Jesus Christ becomes our personal Saviour.
The Lord revealed to Jacob that the ladder came down from heaven right to where he lay, polluted in his own sin. If you and I are going to be prepared for salvation, we will not do so by getting ourselves all cleaned up and presentable to God. There was an artist who wanted to do a drawing of a pauper. He went into the slums of the city and saw a man dressed in filthy rags. He told the man, "If you will come to my studio so that I may use you to draw a picture, Ill give you $1,000." The poor man was all excited. He went home and took off all his rags, cleaned up, and borrowed money to buy some clean clothes. Then he came over to have his portrait drawn. But when he got there, the artist said, "Im sorry, I cant use you." Thats the way we are before the Lord. The Lord wants us to come just as we are. He wants us to come, realizing that we are in filthy rags, that our best "righteousnesses are as filthy rags," ISA 64:6.
God doesnt want us to go home and try to get ourselves all cleaned up so we can present ourselves as some self-righteous Pharisee before Him. To make ourselves acceptable in His sight, we must understand that the ladder came down, and it came down right to where Jacob lay, polluted in his own sin, a fugitive running from the consequences of his sin. We must understand that we need a Saviour who comes down to where we are in our sin. He will come and deliver us from the power of sin itself, and He will furnish us with the new garment. It will be a garment of His righteousness. He doesnt want us to go home and borrow money, trying to make ourselves presentable. The Lord wants us to come as we are.
We read in GEN 28:16-17: "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." When we have a sense of what it is to have God revealed to us in our natural state and we come before Him in our filthy rags, recognizing our filthiness, then we come as the publican and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner," LUK 18:13. We cant come as the self-righteous Pharisee and say, "God, I have done this and I and I and I." All we can say is, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Jacob saw himself standing in the presence of God dressed in his own filthiness. He recognized his need for a Saviour.
All the separation that Jacob felt as the result of his sin was removed, and Luz was transformed into Bethel by the blessed revelation of the Lord Jesus. We read in GEN 28:19, "And he called the name of that place Bethel [the place where the Lord met with him and took away his filthiness]: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first." The word "Luz" means "separation," separation from God. He saw the place of separation transformed into none other than the "House of God."
That revelation of Christ that Jacob saw in that ladder first revealed Jacob to himself. It gave Jacob a view of the filthiness of his sin in his own state of spiritual deadness and separation from God. Thats why the city was called Luz at first, a place of separation. Jacob was allowed to see how his sinfulness brought separation from God. But it was that ladder, the blessed Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ that made him acceptable. It was the robe of Christs righteousness that made him acceptable in the eyes of God.
The ladder was also a revelation of the love of the Father in giving His Son to come down to where he lay in his sins. JOH 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jacob saw how dreadful his sin was. God showed Jacob that He came down not to destroy him but to bring him that blessed message of salvation.
Jacob had been brought up in an atmosphere surrounded with the love of God in the tents of his father, but it became personal for him in the very hour of exile for his own sin. You and I can have a very godly upbringing and may have seen the work of God in many different people, but it becomes personal. It becomes MY God. In those times when we feel the furthest from God and sense the separation from God to be by far the greatest that we have felt in our lives, it is at those very times and places that we find God is our God. Jacob had been exiled from that house of his father in which the love of God had been manifest. He was a fugitive fleeing for his life. In that very hour, Jacob found that God was his God. Not only was He the God of Abraham and Isaac, but now He was the God of Jacob.
Jacob had been inclined to localize God in his father's tents. This happens to all of us. We have a tendency to localize God in our fathers tents or in our little church or in a certain pastor. I remember a time when we had the feeling that if the end of the world were coming, but this one certain pastor could be here, how what blessing it would be! When everything was caving in, if only that pastor could be there! Many times we think that if we localize God to a certain group or fellowship, then we have Gods grace. But Jacob was in exile. He was fleeing for his life. He was laying out by himself with a rock for a pillow. He was in a place of separation from God. He found that place to be the "House of God." Sometimes the Lord strips away those things that we use as the source of our comfort. He wants us to rest on one Rock, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ must become our foundation and the only source of our comfort. If we are finding comfort from a certain pastor or a certain church or fellowship, we may find that the Lord may exile us from that group. We may find that we stand so alone as a lone sparrow on a housetop because the Lord alone is going to be our God.
Jacob, in his exile, had separated himself from these places of worship. We find in GEN 28:10, "And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran." The word "Haran" means "bitter, burning anger; hateful; revengeful." Jacob left Beersheba, which was the place of rest. He left that localized place of Gods fellowship, but now, Jacob realized that God was to be found even in his exile. Even when it seems that were at the end of the earth and there is no more hope, sometimes thats when we find God. The Lord brings us there for one reason, and that is that we might find God as the place of our refuge. GEN 28:16 says, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not."
I remember a time when we had a group together, and we had our assemblies on Sunday. The Lords presence was with us in great, rich measure. The next thing you know, we began to identify the Lord with this assembly. The Lord wants to become more personal. Sometimes we are exiled to the point we are so alone that it seems there is no one left but God. At such a time, the Lord comes with His nearness. We have nothing else to which we can cling but the Lord. We dont have the certain fellowship or body of people, a certain pastor, our father or mother, or their God. My father and mother both knew the Lord, but they are both buried now. They are like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are not here any more. I cannot rest on my mothers God or my fathers God. I need God for me personally. I must be able to say, "The Lord is MY God." That is what Jacob was learning and what we learn from the separation of Jacob. He needed a personal God. He said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not." We may find that we have nothing left on which to rest, such as a big multitude or fellowship or a social religion. We find out that all we have left is the Lord, and He may come and visit in our exile, in our isolation.
When our sins have separated between our God and us, we may learn to cry out like David in
PSA 61:1-2: "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Sometimes it seems like the Lord has removed Himself from us as far as the east is from the west. You can travel east perpetually. That is why Scripture speaks of our sins being removed as far as the east is from the west, Cf. PSA 103:12. Our sins are removed without restraint, without end, without measure.
When the Lord led Jacob to that blessed Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, he found God even in a place of exile. GEN 28:17 states, "And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." A true reverence or love for God is always fearless, yet filled with fear. Jacob said, "How dreadful is this place!" He was afraid. How can we analyze that? In 1JO 4:17-18, we read, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Was this the kind of fear of which Jacob spoke? No. He was not filled with a slavish fear. He was filled with a holy, reverential fear.
True love is free from fear caused by doubting or distrusting, but there is always that fear of causing God to withdraw His face because of renewed sin. When we have a fear that our foolishness and sin might cause God to withdraw His presence so that we again come into Luz, separation from God, instead of Bethel. There is that fear that God could withdraw His face because of renewed sin. We see this in ISA 66:2: "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." That trembling at the Word of God means that we dont want to have the Lord withdraw His love and His presence because of renewed sin, because we have slighted His Word in any way. We tremble at His Word but not with a slavish fear.
I know what it is to be on my knees before the Lord with my body shaking like a leaf in the wind, saying, "Lord, spare me that I do not sin against Thee, that I would lose Thy love." We tremble at the thought that we would do something that would offend the Lord and cause Him to withdraw His presence and make us walk again in separation from God. Thats the fear of which Jacob spoke.
In the face of such rich spiritual blessings that Jacob had just received, his heart was not set on earthly riches. He only asked for food and raiment, and a peaceful return to his father's house. He asked for the necessities of life and that he might return peacefully to his fathers house. In GEN 28:20-21, we read, "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God."
Jacob had two things that were very important to him. One was that the Lord would give him the necessities of life, his food and his raiment. The other was that he could be reunited with his father and his fathers house. He saw the need of being restored into the loving union with his fathers house. That included Esau. He saw the necessity of being reconciled with his brother and to have his forgiveness. He knew he had provoked his brothers just wrath. He had to have restoration of that unity, "So that I come again to my fathers house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God." He recognized that the bitterness had to be removed and all transgressions forgiven. He needed the Lord to intervene because he knew if his brother saw his face, Esau would kill him for his own sin.
That desire of Jacob's heart, "If God will be with me," speaks of solid, satisfying comfort in the soul. We read in PSA 36:7-9: "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light." Jacob was speaking of these things when he said, "If God will be with me." Jacob wanted God to go with him. He wanted to be in Gods presence and feel His nearness and His love.
Jacob also felt his need for God's divine protection and direction. Jacob said, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go." You and I need the Lords direction. I find that I have to come daily and say, "Lord, give me wisdom to know Thy will and give me the grace to do Thy will." We come to the point where if we know the Lords will, we find that we are such wretched creatures in ourselves that by nature, we stray away and we do contrary to His will. We need Gods grace to do His will. I must come daily before the Lord for these things. That is what Jacob is saying here, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go." He needed the Lord to direct, to keep and preserve him in the way that he went.
Jacob had left his father's house empty-handed as he ventured all alone and afoot across this vast distance of over 500 miles. In GEN 32:10, we read, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands." Jacob is saying that he passed over the Jordan River going to his father-in-law in Haran with just a shepherds staff in his hand. Thats all he had, but he had become two bands. So he made a vow to the Lord.
Our vows must follow, not precede God's promises! I have heard people, and I have been tempted at times though the Lord has spared me from this, to make a vow and bargain with the Lord. "Lord, if You do this, I will do this." This is tempting God. We make God our servant, and we are telling God what He should do. We are bartering with God. We must vow on the basis of a promise already received. God had given Jacob the promise, "I will bring thee again unto this place." Jacob made a vow based upon the promise God had already granted him. We must not vow to the Lord as a condition with God.
God had already told Jacob in GEN 28:13b-14, "...the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Based upon this promise, Jacob could vow to the Lord as we read in GEN 28:20-22: "If God will be with me [God had already said He would be with Jacob wherever he went.], and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 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." Jacob is vowing to observe and do the revealed will of God with the help of the Lord. Jacob said, "I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
We must understand what Jacob is saying. If you are renting a piece of land and have entered into a contract with the landlord in which he gets one-third and you get two-thirds of every crop, when you divide the crop, the one-third does not belong to you. It belongs to the landlord. Jacob is pointing out here that ten percent of everything the Lord gives you is the Lords. Hes the landlord. He owns the land. He owns your income. He owns you. You owe ten percent to the Lord. If you dont do it, you have stolen the same as if you had stolen the landlords one-third share of the crop. You have stolen from the Lord. Giving the tithe is not making a donation. That is not giving the Lord a penny. Thats just paying what you owe. Your offerings are that which you give the Lord in excess of ten percent. When Scripture speaks of tithes and offerings, it is saying that you give the Lord ten percent because it belongs to Him. What you offer is what you give the Lord over and above ten percent.
There are two important matters to notice from this text. First, the young patriarch made an early determination to bring a portion of his earthly possessions into the Lord's house for His service. Secondly, Jacob made a pledge to follow God's ordained way in presenting it. I may say, "Im going to give a tenth, but Ive got my own way to do it." No, the Lord also tells us how to do it, and we must observe to do it His way. In EXO 23:19, we read, "The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God." We dont wait until we have sold our crop and paid all our bills, and then, if we have anything left, give ten percent of the remainder to the Lord. Thats not what the Lord is saying. The Lord is saying, "I want the firstfruits of thy land," i.e. the very first bushel of grain that you harvest. The first ten percent of your crop goes to the Lord. When you sell your crop, the very first money goes to the Lord if you want His blessing. You are stealing from the Lord if you do it otherwise.
Our contributions unto the Lord must not be by impulse, but carefully planned according to God's ordained way. There is an orderly manner in which the Lord tells us to make our offerings unto Him. We must carefully plan according to Gods ordained way. The Apostolic church also gave according as God had prospered them, i.e. in accordance with what they took in, a percentage of their income. 1CO 16:1-2 tells us, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him [In other words, you lay aside a portion in accordance with what the Lord has given you, and you make that contribution to the Lord upon the first day of the week, every week, as the Lord has prospered you.], that there be no gatherings when I come." Paul didnt want to be a bill collector and go call on the people when he arrived at Corinth. Paul was instructing them to do this in an orderly, voluntary manner.
A well settled habit of giving to the Lord must be done from the first fruits of our increase. To use that which belongs to the Lord for other purposes is stealing from the Lord! In MAL 3:8-12, it says, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house [That ten percent is what the Lord uses to make the provisions that are needed for His house. The pastors and priest must have something to eat. There must be sustenance for the Lords 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." [I read an article after J. C. Penney died, and they had asked him, "How much did you contribute to the Lord?"
He said, "I never did keep track with the Lord. I never did keep books."
They replied, "Well, give us an estimate. How much do you think you contributed to the Lord in your life?"
J. C. Penney answered, "It didnt matter how much I gave. I found I could never outgive the Lord. No matter how much I gave, the Lord always gave more.
Verse 11 of MAL 3 continues, "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. And all nations shall call you [the one who pays his tithes and offerings] blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts." This was the vow that Jacob made. Jacob had nothing but a staff in his hand, but the Lord had said that the land would be his and that Jacob would keep on expanding. Jacob responded, "And I will give a tenth to Thee."
This same principle follows through in the New Testament. God will bless those who give tithe. We read in 2CO 9:6-14, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you [The Lord is saying that He will not only bless the giver physically but also spiritually. He is able to make ALL grace abound toward the giver.]; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God." The Lord not only blesses naturally but also spiritually.
HEB 6:9 reads, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." What things accompany salvation? Verse 10 continues, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." The word "minister" means to minister to their needs. It means to lend unto the Lord and minister to the needs of the saints. These are the things that accompany salvation. The Lord will not only bless us in the things of this life, but also in the things that accompany salvation.
2CO 9:12 tells us, "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you." Those who are ministering the Word of God are praying for you with thanksgiving because God has ministered unto their needs. This generates thanksgiving unto God. Giving is such an important function. That is what Jacob was talking about when he said, "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be Gods house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee," GEN 28:22. Where did Jacob learn that?
HEB 6:20-7 gives us the answer: "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all." Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.