Series: Kingdom Economics
Sun am 9 September 2012 – Kobus Swart
Haggai 2:3-9; (Haggai 1:4); Gal. 6:6; 1 Kings 17:2-16; Mal. 3:8-12; (1 Cor. 3:11-13);
(1 Tim. 5:17-18); 2 Cor. 11:8-15 (The Message); Phil. 4:15-20 (The Message); Matt. 6:25-34
The book of Haggai is dealing with the restoration of the Temple – not a Temple built with bricks and stone, but a Temple not built with human hands – the Temple which God is building in which you and I are living stones. Then the Lord goes on to say: “I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory…The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine…The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,…and in this place I will give peace.” (Hag 2:7-9)
It is clear in this Book of Haggai, that in order for the Church to become the steward of the wealth of the nations, its mindset needs to change. God is basically saying that He has had enough of each one taking care of his own panelled house while the Temple of God is lying in ruins (Haggai 1:4). Shakings, therefore, will come – and in many households, have come! It is busy happening and no church will be exempt from that. God is going to sift sort and evaluate. The wood, hay and stubble will be destroyed and only the gold, precious stones and silver will remain; that which is built on the pure Word of God (1 Cor. 3:11-13).
It is therefore necessary that we align ourselves to the thinking of God in this season concerning wealth and finances. We have to redefine what prosperity is. God wants to bless and prosper His people. We do not preach or believe in poverty, but we remember the words of Jesus: “You cannot serve two gods; you either serve God or Mammon.” This does not mean that if you serve God you embrace poverty.
One of the basic principles in the Word is that “…the one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (Gal. 6:6). Elijah, for example, goes to the king and announces a drought and immediately all rain stopped. So they entered a “recession”. In those days rain was everything. They did not have mines or banks, it was bartering with, amongst other things, that which came out of the ground. And for that they needed rain. So God put the whole economy on hold; closed the heavens . (1 Kings 17:2-7).
We must stay faithful to the statutes and principles of God in the face of situations that demand us to become selfish. Don’t let soulish “logic” dictate to you what to do with your finances when you are under pressure. Stay true to the principles and statutes of God’s Word and watch how He will make sure you will never go hungry. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’” So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-16). God continued to bless that woman in spite of the surrounding drought, because she took care of God’s messenger!
God says, “You rob Me because you withhold tithes and offerings” (Mal. 3:8-12). Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (vs. 10). We were never supposed to tithe to the church or institution. The storehouse represents those who are involved in the ministry team who provide bread for God’s people. In secular terms it is for the pastor and his staff or his team. Paul says a labourer is worthy of his wages and should receive double honour (1 Tim. 5:17-18), this means that those who stand in full time ministry with the spiritual father ministry of the house should actually get a better salary than equivalent employment in the market place.
It is not for us (or any local church) to hoard and become an empire. This house is called to be a resource base where people are to be equipped to serve and to be released to the nations. And this could be done much more effectively in conjunction (and in relationship) with other churches in the area. In this season God is going to address our financial thinking, the way we think economically. It is going to start with every family, every father and mother becoming faithful with what they have. Some feel like it is their last piece of bread, but honour the principle of tithing and the blessing will never run dry. Many say tithing is an Old Testament principle. You’re making a big mistake. In the Old Testament in the Law of Moses God set out the culture of giving. In the New Testament we go with the spirit of it, not the legal side of it. (Matt 23:23)
Paul made it very clear that no leader should abuse this principle, and had no good thing to say about those who abuse this for their own gain in the church. I wonder, did I make a bad mistake in proclaiming God’s Message to you without asking for something in return, serving you free of charge so that you wouldn’t be inconvenienced by me? It turns out that the other churches paid my way so that you could have a free ride. Not once during the time I lived among you did anyone have to lift a finger to help me out. My needs were always supplied by the believers from Macedonia province. I was careful never to be a burden to you, and I never will be, you can count on it. With Christ as my witness, it’s a point of honor with me, and I’m not going to keep it quiet just to protect you from what the neighbors will think. It’s not that I don’t love you; God knows I do. I’m just trying to keep things open and honest between us. And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end (2 Cor11:8-15 – MSG).
You Philippians well know, and you can be sure I’ll never forget it, that when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice. Not that I’m looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity. And now I have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes. (Philip 4:15-20 MSG). I want to see an upgrade in every family in this household; I want to see you get out of debt, live in a comfortable house and drive a nice vehicle. Stop blaming the past (political history) and draw from the principles of Scripture.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …. You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt 6:25-34).
Don’t be anxious, you are not an orphan. Ask with thanksgiving because you are a son. Kingdom citizens should live in a different economy, God’s economy, and His economy is in contradiction to the economic thinking of this world. God will take care of His children, but live by the principles and statutes of His Word.