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Giving to God in the New Testament Age March 2, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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There are many preachers and teachers today who teach “giving to God” from an Old Testament perspective. The term “giving to God” is usually defined as giving to support the work of your local church. In this sense giving to God in this New Covenant age is equated with or synonymous to the practice in ancient Israel of bringing your offerings to the house of God, which was embodied in the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. Such teachings therefore will often draw one’s attention to scriptures pertaining to tithes and first-fruit offerings. One may often hear the refrain “honour the Lord with the first fruits of your increase” and “the tithe belongs to God” ringing out from the pulpits or blaring from Christian Broadcasting channels.  The question that needs to be considered however is why should the church seek principles of giving to God today from the Old Covenant? This question will be explored more fully in the rest of this article.

The purpose of the Old Covenant was to point us to Christ, being a shadow of the things to come (Ga 3:24, Heb 10:1, Col 2:17). Christ however has now fulfilled the Law and has changed the Law through His sacrifice on the cross. In so doing Christ has established a new priesthood as per the following verses from Heb 7:

11If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. (NIV)

We see here that it was on the basis of the Levitical priesthood that the law was given to Israel but because it was not perfect it was replaced by the priesthood of Christ, whose priesthood is similar to that of Melchizedek. This point is most important to understanding our relationship with Christ in the New Covenant. Because there is therefore a change in the priesthood there is also a need for a change in the Law. A change in the Law brought about a change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. There are many in the church today who argue out of ignorance that Jesus said (in Matt 5:17) He did not come to abolish the Law (or the prophets) but to fulfill them. So what then? Do we have two covenants (two laws) running concurrently? God forbid, but rather the Old Covenant has been fulfilled and subsequently changed by Christ to the New Covenant through His death and resurrection (Jer 31:31, Heb 8:8, 2 Cor 3:6), being made a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Furthermore Heb 8:13 tells us that the old covenant decays and now vanishes away. The important point to note is that if the Levitical law is still intact today then the priesthood of the Levites (the Aaronic priesthood) would still be intact also.

The question might be asked here that if Christ’s priesthood is similar to Melchizedek’s and the latter received tithes from Abraham then so too Christ should also receive tithes. It should be noted however that similarities of Christ’s priesthood to that of Melchizedek’s relates only to the fact that their priesthoods were not based on a regulation (or law) as to their ancestry as compared to the Aaronic priesthood (Heb 7:14-16).It should be pointed out here also that whilst the law gave a commandment to those of the Levite priesthood (Heb 7:5) to collect a tithe of the people (their brethren) such a command does not derive from the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Why then should be attribute the Levitical command to the priesthood fo Christ?

One of the surest signs that God intended to do away with the old temple system is evidenced by the renting of the veil when Christ was crucified (Matt 27:51). This pivotal moment signified that Christ entered the Holy Place once for all to obtain eternal redemption for us (Heb 9:12). The final end of the Levitical system was to culminate in the destruction of the Temple which Jesus foretold in Matt 24:1-2 (also Dan 9:26). History bears out that this event occurred in 70 A.D. when the Roman general, Titus Vespasian, sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the City and the Sanctuary. With the Levitical system now defunct we now have a High Priest in Christ Jesus who advocates for us and God’s temple now constitute the body of believers which is called the Church (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 6:16) in which everyone is a priest (1 Pet 2:5), not the church buildings themselves.

Attention will now be turned to the question I raised earlier concerning, “why should the church seek principles of giving to God today from the Old Covenant?” I would suggest here that perhaps the main reason for this is because the church building today is treated as somehow synonymous with the ancient temple and likewise those who minister in the affairs of the church are treated as somewhat synonymous with the Priests and Levites under the old temple structure. Indeed when one is admonished to tithe today they are led to believe that the local church now represents the storehouse of God as in Malachi’s day (Mal 3:10). This of course presents a dichotomy in that as I have demonstrated earlier, Christ priesthood is of a different order than that of the Levitical priesthood and consequently the changing of the priesthood necessitated a change in the law. To therefore attribute the law of the Levitical priesthood to Christ’s priesthood is fallacy of the highest order. Jesus Christ did not abolish the old temple structure to again replicate it within the church and this was not so in the early church. What then is the motivation for church leaders today to instruct giving from the Old Covenant instructions? One clear reason for that is, unlike with the old covenant, there is a clear absence of specific commands to the church to “give to God” under the New Covenant. Certainly there is no command in the new covenant to give tithes or first fruits offerings for that matter – the law has changed. It seems therefore it is more appealing to revert to the Old Covenant commands because they are clear and direct with the added emphasis that after all, these are the commandments of the Lord (though not commands to the church).

Within the New Testament one is constantly encouraged to give to the poor and the needy, not only to fellow believers who were in need but also to non-believers as well. What drives the motivation for giving in the new covenant is love out of a pure heart with no expectation of an earthly reward in return and this was aptly demonstrated by the early church in Acts 2, Acts 4 and 2 Cor 8 and 9. On the contrary some of the old covenant instructions which underpinned giving were attached with promises of earthly blessings, Mal 3:10 being a classic example with the promises of the “windows of heaven” blessings. Since the tithe and first fruits therefore went “to God” via the Levites and priests, one is led to believe today that they are likewise giving to God by donating to what is now seen as constituting the storehouse (the local church). Today, giving out of love to meet necessities has been replaced by the old covenant enticement to give because of the promises of blessings attached to it. In this case you are admonished to give not because you are meeting necessities but simply out of a perceived “obedience to God” – the type of obedience that incidentally is not borne out in the New Testament. It is interesting to note that even in our modern society one cannot benefit from the laws of the State that have been annulled yet we are somehow led to believe that we can still benefit from God’s law that Jesus Christ has nullified. 

It is not surprising that the current status quo in the church has come about. The evolution of the church has seen it emerge into a system with vast administrative structures, diverse programmes and large and costly buildings. These developments have created a need for considerable financial support from church members in order to maintain them and consequently there is therefore a need for structured giving to guarantee the finances to safeguard these institutions. Since there are no examples of structured giving in the New Covenant, what better way to institute structured giving in the church than to draw examples from the Old Covenant in the form of tithes and to a lesser extent first fruits offerings, without discounting freewill offerings as well?

What we are seeing today in the church concerning giving was not practiced in the early church but it would seem that the church has come full circle in attempting to replicate at least some of the Old Covenant within the New – what constitutes an illegitimate marriage. The weight of evidence from scripture however clearly shows that it is completely wrong to impose Old Testament standards upon the New Testament not only in the area of giving (to God) but in every aspect of Christian worship. The Priesthood of Christ postdates the Levitical priesthood and as such the old law has changed to a new one. Do we continue therefore to propagate the error in which we have now found ourselves? The challenge for the church today is to radically rethink how we “do church” in order that we may correctly align ourselves with the new law in Christ.

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Comments»

1. 120323–George Hach’s Journal–Friday | George Hach's Blog - March 23, 2012

[…] Giving to God in the New Testament Age (spiritofdiscernment.wordpress.com) […]

2. 120323–George Hach’s Journal–Friday | George Hach's Blog - March 23, 2012

[…] Giving to God in the New Testament Age (spiritofdiscernment.wordpress.com) […]

3. Akyeampong George - December 27, 2016

I have been seeking this TITHE explanation for some time now.
Iam really grateful for the explanation.
I can now be at peace with myself.


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