During the week, I was reading about tithing in preparation for our Sunday School class today, and I came across this scripture:
Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
This is a pretty famous scripture, and I’ve wondered before what the connection is between tithing and being burned at the Lord’s coming. It sounds violent and strange and harsh, and I didn’t know whether to take it literally – if you pay tithing, you’ll be physically un-burned (!) when that happens apparently to everyone – or figuratively: tithing saves you from being spiritually damned, and God will accept you because you’ve shown dedication to Him. I didn’t really know which was the right interpretation, but also neither of them were actually satisfying.
When I read it again this week, I had quite a different impression about the meaning. It appeared to me to mean not only a physical tithe, and physical sacrifices made to God, but also that this period of time is a time of sacrifice for we who live in it. As God’s children, and as His people, our lives will be full of sacrifice. This was spoken to the early Saints, who did endure lives of great sacrifice; and that ‘day of sacrifice’ isn’t over, not until the Lord comes. These sacrifices that fill our lives will ‘tithe’ us spiritually, purifying us – our hearts and spirits – until we are purified enough to meet the Christ and endure His coming. The Lord says, in verse 22, that He requires our hearts. Sacrifice that purifies our hearts makes them a fitting sacrifice, and means they are truly pointed towards God; given to Him through our desires and focus.
Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Those who are tithed won’t be “burned at his coming” because they will spiritually and literally be able to endure the glory – the everlasting burnings – of His completely pure presence. We will be transformed by the Son’s coming, because we will be ready, instead of being “burnt” up because we’re un-prepared and insufficiently pure. Our sacrifices will have refined us as silver, instead of consuming us; and so we will be able to give an offering in righteousness, as the sons of Levi did anciently. But this time, it will be an offering of ourselves – our hearts – not of animals or other things.
Of course, meeting our Saviour isn’t something that will happen for most people at His coming – it will be at our judgement; the time to prepare, as the Lord says in verse 25, is today. When we leave this life (or after whatever time given us in the spirit world), we need to have prepared sufficiently to meet Him. Whenever that meeting occurs, will our hearts be sufficiently pure – refined like silver in the fire of our life’s struggles – or will they have succumbed to the heat and melted from fear?