And the Oil Stayed

little pot

Howard Pastorella

 

By Howard Pastorella

2 Kings 4:6 -And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.

A house full of Blessings
One can only imagine the feeling that must have come over Mrs. Prophetson. Every pot and vessel gathered from the entire community, capable of holding any kind of liquid, was now abiding under her roof. Each one was sweetly filled to the brim with fresh, heaven-sent oil! There was not a vessel more!

The Prophetsons were now completely surrounded by the miraculous, intervening power and provisions of Almighty God. There was simply not another place for Mrs. Prophetson and her boys to put one more blessing from God.
Mrs. Prophetson fully understood the meaning of Deuteronomy 8:18. All of the wealth in her possession was directly from the hand of God. She knew He had given her the power to get that wealth.
Deuteronomy 8:18 – But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
The above Scripture identifies that the purpose of wealth is to establish God’s promised covenant to the fathers of Israel.
Surely, we have some idea of what Mrs. Prophetson felt like. Our heavenly Father has done a magnificent job of blessing us. We could spend an enormous amount of time, paper, and ink making a list of all His blessings. Take just a moment to count the blessings surrounding you and your family. A clear-sighted inventory of God’s goodness to us would prompt us to join the Psalmist in saying, “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18) .

But How Much Are Those Blessings Worth?

Now, what are all of those blessings worth to you? If we were to put a price on them, wouldn’t you agree that the financial sum would exceed the earnings of several lifetimes? The truth of the matter is that we could not afford them if we gave all of our earning potential back to God. The good news is that He doesn’t expect it all back. The rest of this chapter and the next will attempt to identify God’s priorities for spending what He has given to us.

With all of these blessings, surely we would want to give something back to God to show our gratitude, right? I am glad you agree; so does the Apostle Paul. Let’s look at what his New Testament writings have to say about tithes and offerings.

Render to Caesar and to God

What belongs to God?
Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, and Luke 20:25 all record the same conversation where Jesus was asked by the disciples of the Pharisees whether tribute (a kind of a census tax) should be paid to Caesar or not. All three of the gospels give the same basic answer.

Luke 20:25 – And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
The Prophetsons were now completely surrounded by the miraculous, intervening power and provisions of Almighty God. There was simply not another place for Mrs. Prophetson and her boys to put one more blessing from God.

Mrs. Prophetson fully understood the meaning of Deuteronomy 8:18. All of the wealth in her possession was directly from the hand of God. She knew He had given her the power to get that wealth.

Deuteronomy 8:18 – But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

The above Scripture identifies that the purpose of wealth is to establish God’s promised covenant to the fathers of Israel.

Surely, we have some idea of what Mrs. Prophetson felt like. Our heavenly Father has done a magnificent job of blessing us. We could spend an enormous amount of time, paper, and ink making a list of all His blessings. Take just a moment to count the blessings surrounding you and your family. A clear-sighted inventory of God’s goodness to us would prompt us to join the Psalmist in saying, “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18).

But How Much Are Those Blessings Worth?

Now, what are all of those blessings worth to you? If we were to put a price on them, wouldn’t you agree that the financial sum would exceed the earnings of several lifetimes? The truth of the matter is that we could not afford them if we gave all of our earning potential back to God. The good news is that lie doesn’t expect it all back. The rest of this chapter and the next will attempt to identify God’s priorities for spending what He has given to us.

With all of these blessings, surely we would want to give something back to God to show our gratitude, right? I am glad you agree; so does the Apostle Paul. Let’s look at what his New Testament writings have to say about tithes and offerings.

Render to Caesar and to God

What belongs to God?

Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, and Luke 20:25 all record the same conversation where Jesus was asked by the disciples of the Pharisees whether tribute (a kind of a census tax) should be paid to Caesar or not. All three of the gospels give the same basic answer.

Luke 20:25 – And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
There is no doubt that the topic here is money. Jesus made the disciples of the Pharisees identify the image and superscription on the penny as Caesar’s. Jesus confirmed that it was the Roman ruler’s property when He said they should render “the things which be Caesar’s”.

In the same context, Jesus identified another Ruler and His property. He said they should render to God “things which be God’s.” The inference is this: God has property that individuals should render to Him, also. The question to ask here is, “what property exists that should be rendered to God?” God owns it all…the heavens and the earth. However, He introduced tithing and offerings as that portion of increase earned by His people, both non-monetary (cattle, grain, drink) and financial, that belongs to Him.

There is no other logical, biblical direction to go with these New Testament Scriptures. There are those who believe that tithing was a part of the ordinances that were done away with at the advent of the New Testament. However, the act of tithing and giving offerings to God occurred long before these practices were codified into the Mosaic Law. Reread the Old Testament accounts of Cain and Abel, Abraham, Jacob, and so on. All of these characters lived and worshipped God with tithes and offerings before the birth of Moses and the institution of the Law.

Let us continue to discuss tithes and offerings from a New Testament perspective.

Care and Feeding of Oxen – A New Testament Practice

No, this writer is not suggesting that God’s ministers are barnyard creatures – burden bearers, yes; beasts of burdens, no. What we will discuss is God’s plan to provide for those who have answered the call to the ministry.

God has given the New Testament church two specific things that were designed to perfect and edify His believers. One was the five-fold ministry and the other was the gifts of the Spirit. This portion of the discussion will focus on the ministry.

Ephesians 4:11 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Ephesians 4:12 – For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

If these individuals are to be active and full time in the work of the Lord, where will they receive an income? An individual cannot be in two places at the same time. Time spent on one activity means that time will, by necessity, be forfeited in another. If the ministry spends all of their time in the work of the Lord and caring for the members of the church, then they will not be able to work a secular job and earn an income during the same time frame. Granted, there are bi-vocational ministers who work secular jobs while pastoring or evangelizing. These holy laborers are not omnipresent. While their ministries are very effective and many are brought in the Kingdom of God because of it, imagine the impact they would have if they did not have to divide their energies between secular employment and their high calling to preach the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul addresses financial support from the full-time ministry as well as the bi-vocational viewpoint.

1 Corinthians 9:6-7 – Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

The Apostle Paul introduces the phrase “forbear working”. We know that Paul’s position on working was simple. If you don’t work, you don’t eat (see 2 Thessalonians 3:10). So, based on what we know from his other writings, Paul was not talking about abandoning one’s responsibility for earning an income.

We also know that his illustrations in verses 6 and 7 indicate that a laborer, whether soldier, farmer, or shepherd, should be the first to partake of the benefits of their efforts or labor.

So, what is he talking about here? Paul is talking about how God intends to care for the full-time ministry, and he (Paul) also clearly points to the author of that idea. He says that the principle of financial support (tithes) for the ministry in the New Testament has its roots in the LAW.
1 Corinthians 9:8-9 – Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Surely, we know that the context of what the apostle is talking about here is not the care of farm animals. Paul is quoting the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 25:4 – Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
There is no doubt about the origin of those commands. God, in His mercy, wanted to make sure that we understood the principle of supporting the work of God and those who are faithful laborers; so, He inspired Paul to instruct Timothy, as a second witness, to teach this principle also.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 – Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Remember, both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul stated that every word was established in the mouth of two or three witnesses (see Matthew 18:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:1).

The Apostle Paul then brings the issue into clearer focus. Consider the following three verses.
1 Corinthians 9:11 – If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

1 Corinthians 9:13 – Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

1 Corinthians 9:14 – Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
What carnal things do you suppose the Apostle is talking about here? What things of the temple do the ministers use for their life or livelihood? What was left at the altar for the ministers to partake of?

To make things perfectly understandable, Paul writes, “even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:14).

If Paul uses the Old Testament writings as his proof text for supporting the ministry, one does not have to guess what source he would refer to for the percentages that should be taken from one’s increase to support the ministry.

Based on the handful of Scriptures used above, I really don’t believe that this principle of financially supporting the clergy can be misunderstood. The bottom line is that the Lord ordained it. How much more proof does one need?

Care and Feeding the Sheep – Providing for the Poor

There is no doubt as to God’s intention for everyone to be busy in supplying for their own personal needs and the needs of their family. However, there are those, who for any number of reasons, cannot perform this task.

Jesus listed six categories of individuals who needed the attention of the saints; those memorial of his alms to the people! The significance is that God considered alms giving as equally important as a continuous prayer life. There were only two other places in the New Testament where the word memorial was used. Both were references to the woman with the alabaster box who poured the spikenard on the head of Jesus (see Matthew 26:7-13 and Mark 14:3-9). This, too, was a financial investment into the kingdom of God.

As additional evidence to the importance of providing the needs of the poor, the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans says some interesting things about the ministry to the saints.
Paul announced that he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. He wasn’t simply referring to revival meetings he had scheduled with them or to some teaching seminars to share the Word of God with those attending. He had taken up an offering for them and had purposed in his heart to travel to Jerusalem to deliver these monetary gifts. This physical blessing was a top priority for him, and he was postponing his trip to Italy until he had completed this important work.

Romans 15:25 – But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

Romans 15:26 – For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

Romans 15:27 – It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

According to Paul’s writings, this ministry to the saints is not just an opportunity but a duty for the church to perform. In fact, James calls the visitation of “orphans and widows in their trouble” pure religion (James 1:27).

Other Places to Invest in the Kingdom – A Place To Worship

A page or so earlier, a reference was made to the believers who continued daily with one accord in the temple (Acts 2:46). It is important to realize that while there were those references as to the church being in the house of believers (such as the case of Priscilla and Aquila in Romansl6: 3-5), there were still many activities that took place in the temple.

Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1). God told the apostles in Acts 5 to go stand and speak in the temple. In fact, verse 42 says they were daily in the temple preaching and teaching Jesus Christ.

Here is the bottom line…somebody has to invest in the temple to keep it operational.

Jesus taught many lessons about gifts to the altar and offerings into the temple treasury.

Remember the widow’s mites in Mark 12:41-44? Nowhere was the New Testament believer ever told to abandon the practice of financially supporting the temple.

Giving financially to a building fund for the maintenance of the property, the utilities, the decor of any of God’s property should be an offering given WITH the heart. A properly maintained house of God is a tremendous Christian witness to the community of the dedication of God’s people to the His kingdom.

Old Testament or New Testament Requirement?

A quick review of this chapter will show that all references to the financial support of the ministry, the poor saints, and the maintenance of the temple were New Testament Scriptures.
The intent of this chapter was by no means to be exhaustive with regards to all of the Scriptures referencing tithes and offerings. A great deal could be written from both Testaments to illustrate the blessing extended to those who do honor the Lord with the first fruits of their substance.

It is understood that there are those under the umbrella of Christianity who believe that tithes and offerings were done away with when the Old Testament was replaced by the New.

However, the Apostle Paul in his teaching of financial support for the ministry and the poor, utilized Scriptural references found in Deuteronomy. He further stated that the Mosaic Law also enforced monetary support for those who labored in the Gospel. Paul removed all doubt when he brought the practice squarely into the New Testament by stating that the Lord ordained this practice (see 1 Corinthians 9:7-14).

Every New Testament believer owes it to himself or herself to do an in-depth study of both the Old and New Testaments on the God-ordained principles for tithes and offerings. Such a study would only open one’s heart to the manifold blessings associated with giving everything to God with the heart.

There is one final chapter to go. Mrs. Prophetson and her sons were about to be given instructions from the prophet on how to spend the money that He has provided for them. What did God put as first priority on the spending list?
The above article “And the Oil Stayed” is written by Howard Pastorella. This article was excerpted from chapter 9 in Pastorella’s book Save a Pot of Oil.

The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.

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