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When it is Time to Tithe People

July 16, 2014

“Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered.” – Nehemiah 11:1-3

At the beginning of Nehemiah chapter 11 we discover something very significant. Many Jews had moved out of Jerusalem because the walls had broken down. Now that the walls were rebuilt, they needed some people to move back into the city. After all, what good are walls if there is no one living inside of them? This repopulating of Jerusalem was to promote the economic stability and safety of the city.

The above passage seems to describe people placing their names in a lottery and if their name was called they would move to Jerusalem as a family. Almost like the day of reaping in The Hunger Games. Actually, it was not like that at all, but in this day casting lots was often an attempt to discover the divine will. The book of Proverbs teaches that, “the lot is cast in the lap, but every decision is from the Lord.”(Proverbs 16:33) This casting of lots involved complete submission, on behalf of the people, to God’s will.

Change

Change can be difficult. These Jews were required to move their entire lives, leaving that which was comfortable, familiar and, perhaps, loved. This involved sacrifice and, as a result, the people who moved were commended by their countrymen. Commendation implies a willingness on behalf of the chosen people to go; if they were dragged kicking and screaming to Jerusalem they would not be admirable.

Our Lives

The Bible becomes very relevant, significant and transformative when, while reading the text, we allow the scripture to ask us personal and challenging questions. When we read about these people and their willingness to move for the sake of others, for the sake of God’s city, we need to ask ourselves a few prying questions. ‘Are we willing to go, to move and to change when God tells us to do so?’ Are we willing to move for Jesus? Change ministries for Jesus, serve for Jesus, start a ministry for Jesus, start a small group or have your small group plant a new small group for Jesus; are we willing to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable for the sake of God’s kingdom?’ As individuals and as a church?

Uncomfortable questions to ask.

Our Church

For the sake of the city in which God has placed Calvary, for the sake of more people meeting Jesus, we are sending out people from Calvary to plant a church, we are sending people away from what they’ve known, the church where they have matured and been discipled, the ministry in which they were saved, to start up and serve within a new church plant.

We are not casting lots, or pulling names from a hat, but people are praying and asking the Lord if they should go or not. Most will stay, but some will go. We should follow the people in Nehemiah’s day by commending (not criticizing) those who go.

Think back to the story in Nehemiah 11. You realize what Nehemiah institutes here? A tithe, a tithe is a tenth, but they are not giving a tenth of their wealth, but a tenth of the people in their towns.

Church planting is a mother church tithing people and God blesses that; all for the sake of God’s glory and building a city (a church) within the city that loves Jesus, loves others and lives for the good of the broader city.

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