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Biblical Tithing: Questions and Answers June 30, 2014

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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Tithing has become a foundation in most churches yet it is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied terms in the Christian lexicon today. Most people will also claim they know what tithing is yet have never studied the subject in any detail. Many therefore have a perception of tithing based on tradition rather than grounded in Biblical truth. I therefore set out below a number of questions and answers concerning the tithe as set out under the Mosaic law to help clear up some of the confusion and misconceptions around the subject.

1. What is a tithe?
A tithe is a tenth meaning a tenth part or every tenth one. (Lev 27:30-34)

2. Is this the same as 10%?
No. E.g., if the tither was giving a tenth of livestock from his 50 cows a tenth would be 5 but if he was giving a tenth from 45 this would only amount to 4 because he cannot give 4.5 livestock which is what 10% would equate to.

3. Was the tithe from income?
No. A tithe was a tenth of the increase of agricultural produce and livestock in the land of ancient Israel (Canaan) – i.e., what the land brought forth. God gave the land as a gift but reserved a tenth part of what the Land brought forth for Himself. So it was not a tenth of what you made but a tenth of what He first gave (Lev 27:30-34).

4. Could tithes be given in the form of money?
No, not strictly speaking. Although money was readily available, the commandments required food produce and livestock. If you wanted to redeem or buy back the tithe you had to add a fifth (or 20%) of the monetary value on top of the actual monetary value (Lev 27:30-34).

5. Was the tithe the first 10%?
No. It was not a percentage (see 2) and it was NOT the first tenth either. Since a first fruit of the harvest (e.g. grain) was to be given to the priest first (Ex 23:19, Ez 44:30) then the tithe could not have been first. Similarly, the tithe of livestock was not the first tenth but every tenth one that passed under the rod (Lev 27:30-34). The idea that the tithe is “10% off the top” as many pastors teach is not supported by scripture.

6. To whom were tithes given?
The nation of Israel comprising the eleven tribes gave tithes to the Levite tribe (one tribe which made up the twelve). This is because the Levite tribe did not get a portion of the Land so God gave them the tenth part He reserved for Himself as their inheritance (see 3, Num 18:21, Heb 7:5). The Levites in turn gave a tithe of the tithes they received to the priests (Num 18:28). Note the priests did not get all the tenth in Israel – only a tenth of what the Levites received.

7. Who were required to give tithes?
Only those who tended land and owned/looked after livestock were required to tithe to the Levites who in turn tithe to the priests (Lev 27:30-34, Neh 10:37, Num 18:28).

8. Was the tithe the best of what you had?
No. If you were giving livestock you were not allowed to examine whether it was good or bad – you had to give the tenth one that passed under the rod regardless of its condition (Lev 27:30-34). It was the Levites who were then required to give a tithe which constituted the best of the tithes they received to the priests – the Lord’s heave offering (see 7, Num 18:29-30)

9. Were people of other professions therefore not required to tithe, such as artisans, carpenters, brick makers etc?
When God gave Israel the land He reserved a tenth part of the increase that the Land brought forth for Himself, which He gave the Levites for their inheritance because they did not get a share of the Land (see 6). There was no requirement to tithe money nor were people of these professions required to tithe of their wood, metal, cloths, bricks etc. The key thing to note is that God never reserved a tenth part of anyone’s income for Himself. He reserved only a tenth part of the increase of the Land which HE gave in the first place. This was then to be given to the Levites who did not get a share of the Land. If you tended land alongside another profession then you were also required to tithe from the Land but not your other income. For that matter you couldn’t “tithe your time” either.

10. Were people of other professions therefore not required to give of their income (money) to the upkeep of the priests and the temple then?
The temple or tabernacle had a treasury where money was offered to (1 Chron 29:8, Neh 7:70-71, Josh 6:19, 24, Ezr 2:69). This was separate and apart from the “storehouse” which housed the tithe (which was food produce, Neh 10:37-38, 2 Chron 31:6-12, Mal 3:10). Whilst the people also gave money offerings (from their income), wood offerings (Neh 10:34), produce and animal offerings etc these were separate and apart from the tithes (see 1 Chron 22:15, Ex 35:30-35, 36:2-4, for some of the different professions that were in Israel).

11. Is tithing for today – should the church tithe?
The tithing ordinance (Mal 3:7) was abolished (Eph 2:15, Col 2:14) when Jesus went to the cross therefore the church is not under this law.

12. Do the scriptures contradict themselves?
This question though not specific to the tithing question needs to be asked if we are to truly answer the question of whether tithing is for today. It is clear that if scriptures say that the law (and ordinances) have been abolished that it cannot also be saying that we are required to observe the tithing law at the same time.

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Jesus is our tithe June 23, 2014

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith, Tithing.
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Here is an interesting take on the tithe by a Pastor Amos Ortiz.

Tithing Not a Matter of Salvation! Is that so? March 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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There are those who consider extensive attention to the subject of tithing as a waste of time because it will not have any bearing on salvation. This may be true but may also be false depending on where you stand. Indeed there are some preachers who teach the church that they will NOT go to heaven if they don’t tithe. So what is the answer then – does tithing have a bearing on our salvation or not? This is the question I hope to explore in this blog entry.

I have already presented a number of articles on the subject of tithing under the Tithing category so I do not wish to reproduce what I already said in those entries here. The purpose of those posts was to scripturally establish the truth about tithing. However, there is an overarching point of those posts that many reading who simply read on the surface often miss. The point of those posts isn’t to divide people into camps of “anti-tithers” vs “pro-tithers” – I am NOT overtly concerned with how much one chooses to give to their church or the work of ministry. The overarching question however is this: Which gospel have you received and which Jesus have you had preached to you? Is it the gospel that says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us… (Gal 3:13)” OR is it the gospel that says you have not been redeemed from the curse of the law and you are required to continue to observe it?” After all, if we continue to preach that one MUST observe tithing are we not saying that one is still under the law? If one is still under the law are we not saying that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world? Can one not see that tithing when preached in this way can cause us to be caught betwixt two places – being that we are either redeemed from the curse of the law or if we are not redeemed then must we continue to do the works of the law?

In speaking to the Galatians, Paul admonished them to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal 5:1). The yoke of bondage here that Paul speaks of is the law. Lets look at what else Paul had to say about this in the following verses of Gal 5:

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Gal 5:2-9)

We could substitute the word “circumcised” here for “tithing” and it would have the same meaning. In other words, if we seek to observe the tithing law (one part of the law), Christ will profit us nothing for if we tithe according to the law we have become a debtor to the whole law (meaning that we owe it to ourselves and to God to observe the whole law); as a result we have fallen from grace. Is this now not a matter of salvation? For if you have fallen from grace then you shall perish. Looking at verse 9 we note Paul’s warning that a “little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What this means is that this false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole dough.

In Gal 5:8 we read that this persuasion to observe a part of the law, circumcision in this case, does not come from Him (God in Christ) that calls you. In like fashion the persuasion to observe the tithe law does not come from God in Christ who calls us today to receive the free gift of salvation. It is interesting to note that this teaching of observing the tithe law (leaven) has now permeated the gospel and consequently the world wide church. With this “small” error creeping in, this has paved the way for other observances of the law such as first fruit giving, honouring holy days such has the Day of Atonement etc., to creep in also. One of the reasons why such teachings come about is because there are those who misunderstand what Christ said in Matt 5:17, that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfil them. Christ fulfilled the law when He declared on the cross, “it is finished” (John 19:30). Because Christ fulfilled the law, He established a new covenant in His blood so that we can now attain salvation by Grace through faith and not through the works of the law (Eph 2:8-10; Gal 2:16, 21; Gal 3:3).

Let me reiterate here what I have always said in the previous posts on tithing, there is nothing inherently wrong in volunteering 10 percent of your income to the work of ministry if this is what you have decided in your own heart. However, if you seek to observe the tithe law you are fallen from grace. Anyone who teach that one must observe the tithing law is preaching another gospel, and if another gospel another Jesus thus perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6-9).

On the basis of the scriptural evidence presented therefore it is clear that tithing is in fact a matter which pertains to salvation if it pertains to the observance of the law – the yoke of bondage which Christ has set us free from by His own blood. I will end with the following question that Paul posed to the Galatians:

3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)

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.

In tithes we trust February 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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The modern church has come to be reliant upon “tithes and offerings” which are regarded as essential to financing the Gospel. Proponents of the tithe in particular have claimed that God purposed for the tithe to be used to finance the Gospel, i.e., the church structure/organisation. In this regard it is argued that Jesus Christ never abolished the tithe, and to support the arguments scriptures are cited which suggest that tithing was before the Law. Whatever the arguments though, “tithes and offerings” are the mainstay of most churches in Christendom today and forms the main source of income to meet the various needs of the church.

 

The question should be asked however as to whether tithing (in particular) meets the standard of New Testament giving. The term “tithing” here is used rather loosely to refer to the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the local church. It should be pointed out therefore that though this modern form of tithing is not identical to the biblical practice it is usually the case that scriptures which pertains solely to the Law (the Old Covenant) are used to support the practice in the church today. So where exactly are we? Are we still under the Law or has the Law been set aside or perhaps we are partially still under the Law?

 

Perhaps the most overused scripture in “enforcing” tithing in the church is Mal 3:8-12. This portion of scripture appears to have the most currency because it drives fear in a believer’s heart in that they are robbing God if they do not give a tenth of their income and consequently they will be cursed as God will not rebuke the devourer. Of course none of us would like to be considered as robbing God and we certainly would want to escape from any curses imposed by God. One of the main justifications for tithing therefore is that the tither either believes or is lead to believe that they are insuring against this dreaded curse and are also “investing” for future blessings when they tithe. The fact that the church has to rely on this biblical injunction to raise funds demonstrates two things. Firstly, it demonstrates that the church has failed to recognised that the injunction in Mal 3:8-12 was not given to the Church but was said at a time when Israel was still under the Law and that since Christ fulfilled the Law it is no longer in force. Secondly, it demonstrates that both the church leadership and the followership have misplaced their faith by trusting in the tithe instead of putting their trust in God who is the source of all blessings. The church leadership demonstrate a lack of faith when they have to resort to using the Law to “encourage” giving in the New Testament age. Likewise the followership also demonstrates a lack of faith by putting their trust in the tithe as their insurance policy rather than to trust solely in God.

 

Under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood we are called to walk by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11) and as such giving is an act of faith (Jam 2:14-18). Tithing however, contrary to what some have believed, is not an act of faith but an instruction or commandment given under the Law. Furthermore, attempting to “prove God” by tithing as a result of the enticement of “the windows of heaven” blessings again is not an act of faith. If God will bless us because of our contributions to the church then all we need to do is take Him at His words. It is for this reason that Mal 3:8-12 should not be used to stir a believer’s conscience in donating money to the local church. It is important to note here that before faith came the Law was in force (Gal 3:23) and the Law therefore acted as a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24). Furthermore Paul tells us in Gal 3:12 that the Law is not based on faith. Injunctions such as Mal 3:8-12 therefore demonstrates the nature of the Law in its capacity as a schoolmaster – it emphasizes the benefits (merits) if you obey and the punishments (demerits) if you do not. Does this injunction typify our new position in Christ? Is this a demonstration of how faith works in the current church age? Are we as foolish as the Galatians in thinking that we are justified by obeying the tithing Law?

 

Whilst the income generated from “tithing” (of one’s income) may serve a useful purpose in contributing to the spread of the Gospel, the ends do not justify the means. According to James 2:10, if we seek to observe the Law but fail in on one point we are guilty of the whole Law. If we then are guilty of the Law then are we under a curse. But thankfully Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having been made a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The very curse therefore referred to in Mal 3:8-12 is the same curse that Christ hath redeemed us from. Why then do ministers continue to use Mal 3:8-12 to convict their church members to tithe of their income? Are they so fearful that if they do not instruct tithing that they won’t have any money to finance the church and are the members so lacking in faith that they can’t give unless they are faced with threats?

 

It is interesting to note that there are many church goers who help to propagate the myth that “tithing works”. By this they mean that when they pay their tithes they are blessed as this is usually followed by promotions at work, salary increases, unexpected gifts of money and general stability in their finances. On the reverse some claim that when they do not tithe all sorts of problems befall them so from this standpoint alone many put their trust in tithing to ward against the evil devourer that seeks to upset their finances. The simple truth however is that whether you tithe or don’t tithe you will have problems in your life including your finances. The Psalmist understood this fact only too well when he declared: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Ps 34:19). Jesus also tells us in John 16:33 that we shall have many trials and sorrows in this world and Paul declared that through much tribulation must we enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). If you purpose in your heart to give 10 percent of your income to your church that is fine. However, tithing is not an insurance policy against the evil day and the church should not teach tithing as if this is the case. You should instead put your faith and your trust in God alone who is able to help you to overcome all the challenges in this life.

I am not against tithing January 9, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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I am putting this post out to clarify my position on tithing. The reason for doing so is that “pro-tithers” (if you can call them that) will often misinterpret and misrepresent what others who don’t share their view says in opposition of tithing. As such anyone who says that tithing is not biblically binding upon the New Testament church are often considered anti-tithers. I am however NOT an anti-tither. This might sound confusing to some who read my posts because they may ask, “if you are not against tithing then why do you write so many posts attacking tithing?” However I will demonstrate in this post why I am not attacking tithing and why I am not against tithing at all.

What is tithing?

For most people in the New Testament church tithing is separating 10% of your income/earnings (indeed 10% of all you receive whether regular or unexpected) and giving it to God via the local church. It is believed by many that this portion belongs to God as this is what God commands or demands. This view is largely based upon the Law of Moses. Support for this practice is also drawn from Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek in Gen 14, where he gave the Priest a tithe of all the spoils he recovered in battle to rescue Lot, and to a lesser extent Jacob’s vow to give a tithe to God of all God gave him.

Let me state categorically here that I am not against anyone giving 10% of their income to their church and neither do I wish for anyone to stop giving their 10% to their church. However 10% of ones income given to the church should NOT be confused with the tithe that God required of Israel. So what exactly was the tithe that God required? The following verses tell us clearly what these were:

Lev 27

30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. 31And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. 32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

Now some will argue here that they tithe food and animals because money was not available and that people at that time were engaged in the practice of barter. This of course is not true because money was mentioned as far back as Gen 17:12 and occurs at least 9 other times in the book of Genesis. As a matter of fact verse 31 of Leviticus where it speaks of redeeming the tithes, this was a reference to buying back part of the tithes with money as the NLT translation more clearly shows:

If you want to buy back the LORD’s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. Lev 27:31

 

What we note from these verses is that although it was possible to convert (or buy back) some of the tithes with money (plus 20% mind you), God did not command Israel to tithe money specifically but only produce of the Land.

 

If this is not sufficient evidence that money was readily available, we also find in Deut 14:24-25 where the tithing law was more clearly outlined also mentions money – here the Lord commanded that if the way was too far so that the tither wasn’t able to carry the tithe (to the place where the Lord chose to place His name), he should convert it to money and take it and buy whatever his heart desired. What Deut 14 also shows is that tithing was not only about giving (i.e. to the Levites and the poor etc) it was also about the tither eating their tithes before the Lord and only the third year tithe was given to the Levites etc.

 

Was the temple financed through the tithe?

In the previous section I attempted to define what the tithe under the Law constituted and it was clearly nothing to do with income or money. Here is a puzzling thought though. If only produce of the land were to be given as a tithe then were people not engaged with agriculture exempt from tithing? The simple answer to that question is yes! We have to remember here that whilst the Land was given to Israel as a nation the Levite tribe (from which the priests would come) did not get any portion of it. The tithe OF THE LAND was therefore given to the Levites to inherit [(Num 18:24, 26). The Levites in turn gave a tithe of all the tithes to the priests [(Num 18:28) Note they also received first fruit offerings and such as well which I will not go into as this topic is focused on tithing].

Having considered the foregoing therefore several questions might be raised. If only food was tithe to the Levites and Priests how was the tabernacle or the temple supported and how were the other needs of the Levites met such as for clothing, household things etc? Did they therefore sell some of the tithe to get money to fund their other living costs and the temple costs? Scripture does not tell us that any of the tithe was to be sold in this way. Rather, the purpose of the tithe was to provide food for the Levites (and the Priests) and there is no indication that any other expenses were to be derived from it as we see here:

12When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Deut 26

Mal 3:10 also demonstrates that the purpose of the tithe was so that there would be food in God’s house. Here is where “pro-tithers” argue that produce cannot pay for the needs of the church. The point needs to be stressed here though that unlike the church today the tithe was eaten and not used as a means of funding the temple. The point needs to be highlighted here also that the storehouse in Malachi’s day was NOT the temple itself so equating the church to the ancient storehouse is somewhat silly. The storehouse was where the food was kept and certain Levites acted as treasurer over the storehouse.

Where then did the money come from to meet the expenses of God’s house in ancient Israel if it did not come from the tithes (of produce of the Land)? And how were the expenses of the Priests and Levites met?

Firstly, we note from Num 35:1-4 that the Levites had possessions of goods, cattle and beasts and they were given cities to dwell in when they entered the Land and suburbs around their cities to hold their animals. Note also from Lev 25:32 that the Levites could sell their houses for money at anytime.

In contrast to the view that the tithes are used to fund the expenses of the church, money (not food) was collected separately by the priests and Levites from all Israel annually to maintain the temple (see 2 Chron 24:5, Neh 10:32). There was also other freewill giving of money to the house of God as seen in 2 King 12:4.

Aside from the tithe of produce the priests received money as a type of poll tax on the first-born of Israel(Num 3:45-51). They also collected money for the atonement of sins demonstrated in Exo 30:16, and which was used for the service of the tabernacle. In 2 Kings 12:16 the priests received the sin and trespass money which was not brought to the house of the Lord but belonged to the priests.

One of the clearest passages of scripture which demonstrates that the tithe was nothing other than food can be found in Neh 10. In this chapter we see in verse 34 where wood for example, was given as an offering but it was not included in the tithes. In verse 32 we also note they contributed money annually for the service of the temple and again this was separate from the tithes which we come to realise when we get to verses 37 and 38. Here we note that the tithes were collected from the agricultural cities (cities of the tillage) only thus confirming what I said earlier that only food producers were required to tithe and that the tithe was never money. To add to that, what we notice from the New Testament scriptures is that the practice of tithing produce existed up to Jesus’ time as the Pharisees tithe herbs of mint, dill and cumin (Matt 23:23). This was clearly the practice of tithing and money was given separately to the temple treasury as we see in Mark 12:41. It is noteworthy to mention here that those who argue that Jesus did not abolish tithing, citing Matt 23:23, by the same logic refuses to acknowledge that the tithe was not money or the equivalent of earnings but food produce from food producers only. If Jesus did not change the tithe law then the tithe remains a tenth part of produce only from food producers. This point however is lost on “pro-tithers”. We note from Luke 16:14 that the Pharisees loved money yet Jesus did not rebuke them for tithing herbs instead of money and this is because under the law only produce could be tithed. It should be noted here also that people who were engaged with other professions but who also tilled the land on the side were also required to tithe of the produce of the ground. They did not however tithe of their income from their profession.

Who changed God’s Law to require a tithe of income from all Christians? By this misinterpretation of the Law all Israel would have been required to tithe yet that is not what scripture teaches.  

To recap

There are a great number of misconceptions concerning the tithe and as the debate rages on the misconceptions proliferate. In this article I have merely addressed a few of them. However, I think that if we start from the position that the biblical tithe that God commanded had nothing to do with income nor had it anything to do with money or finances then we would be well on our way to resolving all the various disputes. I believe I have demonstrated why tithing is not something done in the New Testament church. Giving 10% of ones income to the church is not equivalent to the Mosaic tithe and therefore the tithing Law should not be used to support this practice in the church. I am not against anyone freely giving 10% of their income to their church if they so wish but this is not an observance of the biblical tithe, nor could it ever be. I pray that people would learn the truth about tithing and be set free of bondage.

The trial of Pastor Jones January 5, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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I came across the following mock trial of a pastor who taught tithing in error to his church for years (although I must confess that I had seen it several years before). I find it very insightful as it addresses all the issues surrounding the legalistic approach to tithing in the church today. There is one thing that really stuck out for me however and it is the following quote from the judge’s response:

 “If your church can not survive on freewill offerings maybe God is not part of your church at all.”

What a profound statement.

The article can be view here: http://www.tithing.christian-things.com/jones.html

Enjoy.

Tithing Confessions January 4, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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One of the bizarre things I have come across about tithing in recent times is dubbed “tithing confessions”. I grew up in churches that mentioned or advocated tithing but I had never heard of the practice of tithing confessions till recently. It would appear that after many years of tithing people are questioning why they are not receiving the promised “windows of heaven blessings” that their pastors promised them. They are no better off after years of tithing and still face the same struggles daily. So it appears that in order to “ease” the discontent and uneasiness someone came up with a “clever idea” that the reason they are not receiving the blessing is because they lack faith and therefore they need to regularly make a “tithing confession”. These confessions are designed to encourage the faithful to hang in there and continue to tithe faithfully believing that if they confess regularly that the blessings will eventually pour forth. A close examination of some of these “confessions” (can be found by googling) will reveal that they are little more than vain babblings by people who are destitute of the truth.

 

The question that one should ask therefore is that if God promises you something why should you need to confess daily or regularly in order to receive it? This to me demonstrates a lack of faith because by faith we take God at His word. We do not test or prove God but rest upon His promises. If we look at Abraham for example, God promised him a son. Do we see in scripture where Abraham confessed daily to receive his son? No! Abraham expressed doubt because of his age and his wife’s age so thought he would help God to fulfil the prophesy by heeding his wife’s encouragement to beget a son by her maid Hagar. Yet following this Abraham was granted the son God had promised him. The thing to note is that when God promises something He will fulfil it according to His sovereign will so all we need to do His wait on Him.

 

We need to examine however whether God promised the church the “windows of heaven blessings” for tithing. It is clear from scripture that Mal 3:10 was a covenant withIsraelandIsraelonly. Paul says that before faith was the Law, hence since faith had not yet come, God instructedIsraelto prove Him by bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if He wouldn’t open the windows of Heaven and pour out the blessing. Those who tithe according to these promises therefore are trying to hijack a covenant and attempting to beholden God to it – a covenant which incidentally has been set aside by God and replaced with a new one. Under the new covenant we have faith therefore we do not seek to prove God. Many are therefore tithing and confessing in vain because they seek after promises that God did not give them. This is why they will never receive the “windows of heaven blessings” as a direct response to their observance of a covenant that God did not make with them.

 

The use of “tithing confessions” is a deceptive doctrine which serves to keep in bondage those who are vainly hoping for things that were never promised to them. God is not man that He should lie. God is not delivering on these promises because He did not promise them to the new covenant church. If He had you would not have been tithing in vain all these years and still left empty-handed. God does not fail on His promises. Wake up church!!

 

Bring the “whole tithe” into the storehouse December 26, 2011

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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For supporters of tithing, their favorite verse of scripture is Mal 3:10 in which the command is given to “bring the whole tithe” or by some translations “bring all the tithes” into the storehouse of God. Here the modern storehouse is deemed to be the local church and the “whole tithe” constitutes ten percent gross of all your income in monetary terms (some reckons that ten percent net of taxes is acceptable).

Putting aside the dispute concerning whether or not tithing is for the church today, I want to concentrate on establishing from a biblical standpoint how much the “whole tithe” was comprised of and show that the teaching that the “whole tithe” was ten percent of everything (whether gross or net) is actually a lie – an invention that entered into the church but cannot be found anywhere in the written Word. Let me say here that I do not believe that everyone who teaches tithing is a deceiver. I know that there are many genuine pastors who believe that the church should tithe but rather than having studied the subject themselves I think they are simply relying on what they learnt from seminary and inherited in the churches they pastor. Nevertheless scripture requires that a minister of God studies the Word and handles it correctly as we see here in 2 Tim 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

There are some ministers however who set out deliberately to deceive church members in order to gain wealth such are the ones that even when they are corrected they will ignore it and continue in the error in order to satisfy their gluttonous appetites for money.

Advocates of tithing therefore say that though the Law was abolished it is a “biblical principle” that the church should observe. In this regard they claim that the tithe is equivalent to ten percent gross (or net) of all you earn. But let’s use an illustration to examine if this was the principle that was established under the Mosaic Law.

Illustration (based on the ten percent gross argument)

Let’s say that a farmer in ancient Israel made the equivalent of £10,000 per year from his trade. This means that he would be liable for paying a tithe of £1,000 (10 percent of £10,000) each year.  So after the first 3 years of having entered the Promised Land he would be liable for a tithe of £3,000 (ten percent of £30,000 – total income for 3 years).

According to the ten percent gross argument therefore this is the equivalent amount of tithe that would be owed by the farmer to the storehouse. Can this be supported by scripture though? Let’s examine what the scripture actually says. We should remember here that though Malachi 3 says to “bring the whole tithe” there is no definition of what constituted “the whole tithe” in that passage. To define the “whole tithe” therefore we need to return to the Law of Moses since Malachi was simply re-iterating the requirement of the Law. The tithing instructions are therefore laid out in the books of Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the Old Testament. Let’s see what Deut 14 tells us:

22Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

28At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied;

Going back to the illustration earlier what these verses of Deut 14 is telling us is that £2,000, of the total £3000 in “back tithes”, which corresponds to the tithe for the first two years, belongs to the farmer for himself and his household to enjoy before the Lord. This portion did not belong to the storehouse contrary to what pastors are teaching today that the first 10 percent of all your income belongs to God. This was clearly not the principle that was established under the Law. Only the whole tithe from the third year (£1000 as per the illustration) was to be set aside for the Levites and the fartherless etc as we can see from verses 28-29.

It would appear from Deut 14 that tithing to the Levites (or to the storehouse) was done in a three-yearly cycle but that is not the end of it. So let’s explore this a bit further. In Lev 25:1-12 all who tended land (farmers) were commanded to cease from their labor in the seventh year – a year that was to be a Sabbath to God. In this year they were not suppose to dress their vines, sow or gather anything (the harvest). The first thing we note here using the previous illustration is that in 7 years only £2000 was given to the Levites et al and the other £5000 of tithe belonged to the farmer and his household – this he was commanded to eat so that he may learn to fear God. Lev 25:6 tells us clearly who the increase of the land in the 7th year (what grew naturally) belonged to and it was not the Levites (or the storehouse). Similarly in the 50th year, the year of Jubilee,Israel was not supposed to sow, tend vines, or gather anything. This was similar to the Sabbath year.

Although I have used a monetary illustration the point should be emphasized that the tithe was applicable only to those who tended land and therefore it was never expressed in monetary terms. How did we get from the biblical position I have laid out to a doctrine of ten percent gross on all someone’s income?

Financing the Gospel December 21, 2011

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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Supporters of tithing often make the claim that God intended for the church (i.e., the Gospel) to be financed through the mechanism of the tithe. In establishing this doctrine they cite Old Testament scriptures to support their claim. However, did God really intended for the church to be financed through the tithe? This is the question I hope to answer in this short study.

 The apostle Paul has laid down some clear guidelines on “financing the gospel” that the church should follow. For instance, Paul made the following declaration in 1 Cor 9:

 13Do 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? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

 

The central question here however is whether tithing was the means by which the Lord ordained those who preached the gospel to live of it? After all, aren’t pastors living of the gospel when they collect their stipend and other forms of remuneration and aren’t they doing so from the tithes and offerings? It should be noted here that some churches teach that the tithe is strictly for the pastor’s enjoyment. So what examples do we glean from scriptures of people who lived of the gospel?

 I believe as the church and the body of Christ, our starting point should always be to look at Christ’s example as after all He is the Chief Shepherd (or Chief Pastor) of His church (1 Pet 5:4). In the early stages of the Gospel going forth, Jesus called the twelve disciples and sent them out to deliver the good news to the lost sheep. Interestingly, Jesus told them not to take money or even a change of clothes or shoes with them yet he assured them that “the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matt 10:10). This was the first example shown to us in scripture of people who preached the gospel being fed by it and this was the same principle that Paul alluded to in 1 Cor 9:14 quoted earlier and also in 1 Tim 5:18. After the disciples returned from their travels however, Jesus asked them if they lacked anything whilst they journeyed to preach the message of the Kingdom and they replied they lacked nothing (Lk 22:35). All their needs were met by some of the people they came into contact with. What we do not see however is a commandment from Jesus to the disciples to go out and as they preached to collect tithes. What a contrast to today’s churches that declares that the work of the Lord cannot be done without “exacting” tithes?

 Christ went about establishing the church and wherever He went preaching, great multitudes gathered to Him yet we do not see a single example of Christ collecting tithes and offerings from the multitudes. What we see however is that there were some dedicated women who ministered to Him out of their own means (Lk 8:1-3). The early church also demonstrates in Acts 4:32-34 how that the church ministered to one another, including the apostles, so that everyone’s needs were being met. Verse 32 is particularly important in answering the question of whether or not the early church tithe. The verse says:

 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

 Here we see in this verse that the believers in Christ did not take ownership of the things they possessed but shared it commonly with their brethren. Within such a construct it is clear that tithing could not have been practicable because this would imply that they gave a tenth part and kept the rest for themselves but this is not what was observed.

 The final example we may draw on comes from Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians concerning ministering to the saints in 2 Cor 9:1-7 (which actually is a continuation from 2 Cor 8). Here Paul was collecting gifts in order to distribute to the poor saints in Jerusalem but what we noticed is that he did not over-burdened the church but ask them to give according what each man had purposed in his own heart.

 The system we have in churches today is indicative of the Levitical system, whereby the pastors now assume the office of the Levite priests in the temple and are sustained by tithes. This construct is however foreign to the Gospel of Christ as the early church did not demonstrate these traits. The collection of monetary gifts and the like were strictly for meeting the needs of everyone in the church who had a need, not just the pastors’. One did not simply pay their tithes and offerings from their limited resources and go home despairing as to where the next meal was going to come from or how they were going to pay their rent. Certainly the poor in the church weren’t being told that if tithe faithfully, God would open up the windows of heaven.  Contrarily, everyone’s needs, including those of the apostles, were met from the proceeds of what was gathered. This was the means by which those who preached the Gospel were to live of it and not through a crudely reconstituted Levitical system.

 Will the church stop propagating the lie that God intended the gospel to be financed through the tithe?

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