Monday, February 17, 2014

The Temple Roots of Tithing

The first appearance in the OT of the institution of tithing is in Genesis 14.  Abram pays tithing to Melchizedek ("my king is righteousness"), the shalem (peaceable) king (Alma knows this pun), after a feast of bread and wine.  This is a temple passage, also shown in the Sermon on the Mount: those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Melchizedek) are filled when they share a feast with God (the Lord, Melchizedek).

Jacob also pays tithing.  He commits to it after an experience in which he sees God and angels ascending and descending to and from "heaven," sets up a standing stone and anoints it, makes the covenant of Abraham, changes the name of the place from "Ulam Luz" (the KJV mysteriously drops "Ulam," which is the name of the first room of the temple) to Beth-El (the "house of God," which he also describes as the "gate of heaven"), and agrees that God will keep him in the way and give him bread and clothing.  The result of this covenant will be shalom, "peace."  This is also manifestly a temple passage.

Finally, Malachi's famous passage about tithing is set in a context in which the Israelites are chastised for abandoning the Lord's true pattern of worship.  They are promised (warned?) that the Lord still appears, and that he will do so, as he has always done, in his temple, preceded by an angel priest.

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