From an online Bible Study Presented in Worthychat
by Omegaman

My Personal History and the Tithe

For as long as I have attended church, it seems to me that I have heard the phrase "tithes and offerings". Sometimes, I have heard the word "gifts" used. In most of these cases, it has been about putting money in a plate, a basket or sometimes a cloth bag. Over the years, I have heard my share of sermons on the importance of tithing. I had attended churches, when I was not even a believer, and when the plate came around, felt a bit uncomfortable, partially because I had no idea what was customary to do. I had wished they had just charged admission like a theater, rather than leaving me to figure out how much money I needed to put in the plate as it went by. Indeed, one of the things you often hear unbelievers complaining about is this constant begging for money, that is associated with attending a church, or even watching some religious guy on TV, it always comes down to money.

When I was a new believer, I was fortunate to fall into the hands and teaching of the late Dr. Walter Martin. What a lovely man. He had such a way of communicating. I loved attending his adult Sunday school classes. One thing that sticks out in my mind about those sessions, was that when it came time to deal with the finances, he would say something to the effect:

"You Christians know what your obligations are. If you are not a believer, please, keep your money, we just want you to enjoy your time with us today."

That always impressed me, I wished that other churches I had been to, had that attitude. When I moved from Orange County years later, I attended a new church. There came a point where they were talking about 'Book Signed Members'. To be a book signed member, you were expected to tithe. At the church, a tithe was 10% of your income, your gross income, before taxes. Many Christians do not understand that a tithe is 10% by definition. In fact, it is - tithe literally  means tenth. Well, I wanted to be a book signed member there, but to be truthful, I did not want to give up a tenth of my income. It left me a bit distressed. I told the pastor about my feelings, and he recommended a book to me. I bought the book and read it.

The book presented the case that Christians should tithe, should give ten per cent to their church. It had scriptures about tithing, and I would look up the passages and read them in the Bible. The more I read, the less convinced I was about the point that the book was making. By the time I was through, the book had lead me to passages that actually convinced me that tithing was not Christian at all, not called for, not necessary, not related to my life in Christ in any way. The book had the opposite effect on me, than the author intended.

I began tithing almost immediately. Why did I do that? The answer is very simple. My flesh, the rebellious part of me, resented being required to pay money that would impact my standard of living. However, the book had driven me to the scriptures, where I discovered, that tithing was a part of God's covenant with Israel, not part of any requirement that He placed upon the church. In other words. I was free from obligation to pay a certain amount of money. This freedom, made me thankful, made me appreciate the fact that God had instead, provided me with my needs, out of which He trusted me to give willingly, an amount that was comfortable and in keeping with my means. This freedom even meant that I did not have to give a dime, if I resented it. The strangest part to me was, that the same amount I resented being required of me, I was now happy to give up. God had done a small work in my heart.

Later in my walk, I learned to trust God to supply my needs, just as He promised. Rationally, I cannot explain that I could live in a beach town in southern California (a very expensive part of the country where I grew up), and raise 5 kids on only a workman's hourly wage, letting my wife quit her job. Rationally, it is ridiculous. Never-the-less, we have never gone a day without food, never lacked for a roof over our heads, always had clothes on our backs. Right now, I do not have the money to pay my bills, and occasionally we have gone into default on our mortgage, with foreclosure proceedings begun, but I trust that God indeed, can provide all of our needs in spite of what seems reasonable. So far, He always has.

Our church began to undergo a building program. Our pastor came before the congregation to ask us, to prayerfully consider how much we might give above our normal amount, over the next two years, so that the church could undergo a building program, and have an idea of what their budget should be. He asked us to pray about it, and if we heard from the Lord, to commit to that amount. My wife and I did just that, we prayed that night about it, and went to bed. In the morning, my wife asked me if I had any amount that I thought the Lord had impressed upon me. I told her that I did. She said she had also. We compared notes. Myself, I was not expecting to see the same numbers. I told my wife that I thought we should give $4000 dollars over our normal amount, over the coming two years. She said "Oh? I got a percentage, we should give 18% of our income as our total giving!" I wasn't expecting that answer. I was making $12 and hour at the time, working 40 hour weeks.  Since I worked 5 days out of seven, that meant I got paid for 5/7 of 365 days each year - approximately 261 paid days. $12 an hour times 8 hours a day times 261 days a year times two years was $50112. I actually worked it out, because my wife and I had two different numbers. Hers was to make our total giving to 18%. I subtracted our ten percent tithe from her 18% total giving number, to arrive at 8% above normal. As it turns out, 8% of $50112 is $4008.96. I took that as close enough to be from the Lord, a skeptic might expect God to be more accurate. It is possible, that the discretion is due to my human side. I came up with $4000, because I felt that the Lord had moved me to giving the money, that I was setting aside for an individual retirement account (IRA), which was $2000 dollars a year. I believe that the Lord spoke to my wife, and gave her a number, in a different way, and that that number roughly corresponded to my number, so that I would see that He was at work. He gave her an even number spiritually, while He worked on my heart about what to sacrifice. Looked at in that light, to numbers rounded off and yet so close together (within about 2/10 of one percent), is pretty remarkable. Somehow, even though it would have been more accurate, it seems unlikely that God would have told my wife "Give 17.79821200510855683269476372924649 %". Maybe God knows I prefer round numbers.

But what sayeth the Scriptures?

There is much in the Bible, about money, and much confusion about it in the church. Tonight, we will look at a lot of what God has said, regarding money and regarding tithes, and see what He speaks to our hearts.

Father, as we open your word tonight, we ask that you open our eyes and hearts. We seek to know your will, and ask that as we go through various verses, that you give us spiritual discernment, that we may know what is from you, and what may be from any agendas we might have. Give us the supernatural ability, to judge what is true, and what is error. Lord, I ask that you use all here, to bring forth understandings, that you want us to have. Give us the courage to speak out, regardless of what others may think, and the wisdom to be open to your voice only. We thank you that you hear our prayers, and have provided this place, where we can gather and learn from each other and from you. We ask these things, by the authority that you have given us, through your Son Jesus, and thank you for what you are doing in our lives.

Amen

O.K.

In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words that are translated to the English word tithe. Actually this is not literally true as it depends on the gender, whether it is a verb, a noun, plural etc., but 2 root words. The most common word is ma` aser , it means tenth and comes from the other Hebrew word `asar, which means ten.

This word (ma` aser) is the most frequently used. By the way, the information presented tonight, will be available online later. In addition, every occurrence of these words in Hebrew and Greek, will be in a list where you can read the verses in their partial contexts, and be able to do any follow up study on your own, and go as deeply as you like, into that

We'll look at these tithes in the order they are presented to us, and compare these tithes with the modern practice of tithing in God's church.

 We will begin with  a look at the occurrences of tithing, to see who tithed, and where possible, why they did. We will also note how tithing was practiced. This will give us an understanding of the practice historically, which will help us understand the relevance for us today.

Our first occurrence, is in Genesis 14. There, a bunch of kings waged war with the king of Sodom. They despoiled the place, and took prisoners. Among these prisoners was Lot, Abram's nephew. Abram organized the people loyal to him, and went out to rescue Lot. He was victorious. He rescued Lot, and sent his enemies running, leaving him with the spoils of war:

Gen 14:13-16
13 Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

Now in the above historical reference, notice that the goods  Abram was bringing back, were not his own. I do not know what these goods consisted of, but obviously they were things of value. In any case, this is not very comparable to regular income from a business or work performed, food grown etc. Therefore, this is not comparable to the things which would normally be available for tithing in the tithing laws that will come later, or as practiced in the church today. Let's look at the portion of scripture, where tithing comes into this account.

Gen 14:17-24
17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said,

"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."

And he gave him a tenth of all. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself." 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, lest you should say,' I have made Abram rich.' 24 "I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share."

So, what we see there is, that after God delivered the victory into Abram's hands, Abram gave a tenth to Melchizedek, a priest of God. Now we should note some distinguishing things about this account. There was no tithing law at this time. Abraham GAVE a tenth. In the tithing laws that will be instituted later, tithes are PAID, not given. They are an obligation, this was voluntary. Further, Abraham here, is giving away goods he took in battle, not the work of his own hands. Also it should be noted, that Abram kept none of the goods, so technically, he did not even have an income here. Obviously this is quite different than tithing as we usually think of it. Here, it is basically a historical account of events - nothing here suggests this as a model of tithing, so let's move on to the next case of Old Testament tithing.

Gen 28:
18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. 22 And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house; and of all that Thou dost give me I will surely give a tenth to Thee."

Notice that in that case, there was no requirement from God, no law or commandment given etc. It this one, it is Jacob, that makes the covenant. In other words, he is vowing that IF God will perform certain deeds for Jacob, THEN Jacob will provide a tithe to God. Obviously, this is an historical reference as well, and contains no suggestion that the church is supposed to act that way.

The next passage with the word "tithe", is in Leviticus. Before we go there, I want you to see the larger context. The Israelites had been in bondage in Egypt, as you know. Moses led them out, an He received the Ten Commandment from God. Most likely, you remember that from Exodus. The first 5 books of the Bible, are believed to have been  written by Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Moses describes history for us from the creation forward to his own time, then chronicles his life and God's dealings with the people Israel. I want us to look at a passage in Deuteronomy,  where Moses repeats the commandments, and gives us some information about them:

Deut 5:1-3
5:1 Then Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.

The Ten Commandments

Notice that Moses said this covenant was made with those alive there at his speaking, not with all of mankind. The covenant was not with the past, not with other peoples, but specifically to the living Israelites. Technically, it was with those Israelites present.

Deut 5:5-6
5 while I was standing between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain. He said,
6'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.


Again, God was addressing those brought out of slavery in Egypt. So, what was this covenant that God made with the Israelites? There are several covenants in the Bible, this one is often referred to as the Covenant with Israel. A covenant is an agreement, a contract if you will, to which two (or more) parties agree, which has conditions to be met. God's put forth ten commandments, which Israel was to perform, The people agreed to do so, they accepted the requirements of God.

As long as the people kept up their end of the bargain, the were entitled to things from God in return.

Ex 19:
5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation

Ex 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey."

Ex 34:
10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

Ex 34:27-28

27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant — the Ten Commandments.

Sheep Lev 27:30-33

30 "A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy. 31 If you want to redeem
(redeem here means "keep" - added by me for clarity) the LORD's tenth of the fruit or grain, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. 32 The LORD also owns every tenth animal counted off from your herds and flocks. They are set apart to him as holy. 33 The tenth animal must not be selected on the basis of whether it is good or bad, and no substitutions will be allowed. If any exchange is in fact made, then both the original animal and the substituted one will be considered holy and cannot be redeemed."
New Living Translation

I switched to the New Living Translation there, because it did such an excellent job of making the language clear, saves me a lot of explanation. I will add this though, that in verse 32, the Hebrew says "every tenth animal that passes under the rod." We are going to see this general requirement to tithe, made much more specific in later verses, but let's look at some of the features of the tithe in the above verse.

Shekels

In verse 30, the tithe is specifically on the produce of the land. It does not say give 10% of your money, it does not say give 10% of your fish. This is not because people do not have money, the verses prior to this refer to shekels of silver. In fact, in verse 31 it says you can use money, if you are a farmer, but in order to do so, you have to pay the value of your tithe plus 20%. In other words, if you want to tithe with cash instead of produce, you have to pay 12%, not 10%. This 20% redemption penalty, only applied to vegetable tithes, not animal tithes. Animal tithes could not be redeemed. Think about this, not everyone was a farmer, there are metal smiths, jewelers, carpenters, masons, not everyone grows crops or raises animals for a living. I imagine most people grew at least a little something. Perhaps, for example, a carpenter might make most of his living making carts. He then sells the carts for silver, then buys his needs with the coinage as he needs to. Up to this point, he has no produce with which to tithe. Let's look at the tithing regulations as the become more developed and specific, after all, nothing here says how you tithe. How do you pick out the 10% of your animals, and what do you do with them? Numbers 18:21-28 is were the legislation gets specific on how to tithe.

In Numbers 18, Aaron is told that he and his sons shall be the priests, and that only they are to attend to the obligations of the tent of testimony and of the altar. It is also specified, that the tribe of Levi, will be servants of the priests. Read the chapter at you leisure if you want to see all of this, but for now, our focus is on the tithe. Now the Levites (tribe of Levi) are to never own land. They are not to farm etc. The only duty is service to the priests. What we have here, is a theocracy. A government, where the laws come from God, and He has appointed special people, the Aaronic priesthood and the Levites, to execute those government functions. They  are the court system, the police, the welfare department, the IRS etc. There are no kings or elected officials at this time in Israel, though there are elders and heads of tribes, who are expected to keep some control over their families. So, with this background in place, let's look at the requirements of tithing:

Num 18:21-29
21 "And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting. 22 And the sons of Israel shall not come near the tent of meeting again, lest they bear sin and die. 23 Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, 'They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.'"

25 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26 "Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites and say to them, 'When you take from the sons of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the LORD, a tithe of the tithe. 27'And your offering shall be reckoned to you as the grain from the threshing floor or the full produce from the wine vat. 28'So you shall also present an offering to the LORD from your tithes, which you receive from the sons of Israel; and from it you shall give the Lord's offering to Aaron the priest.

In verse 26 above, we see that it is the duty of the Levites, to take the tithe from Israel, and that the Levites themselves, are to pay a tithe of that, and give it to Aaron. So of 100% of Israel's produce, 9% ultimately goes to supporting the Levites, and 1% goes to Aaron for the priesthood. This is so they have something to eat, since they themselves cannot farm, having no land and having other full time duties. I should probably point out that in addition to the 1% of all produce that the priest get, they have other income in numbers 18, specifically:

Specific portions of sacrificial offerings in verse 11, the first fruits of oil, wine and grain in verses, 12 and 13, offerings from vows, whether food or money in verse 14, firstborn animals in verse 15, money from the redemption of firstborn males and unclean animals in verses 15-17, and the skins of sacrificed animals. So you see, there was quite a bit more than a tithe (10%) given in Israel.

Let's go over what we have learned so far.

1. Tithes are for Israel only, not for the whole world. We have yet to see, if this should be applied to the future church.

2. Tithes are only on the produce of the land - food stuffs, not all forms of income.

3. Tithes go specifically to the Levites. By the way, in modern times, if you want to follow this law, go to your phone book and find someone with the last name of Cohen. Cohens are the descendants of Levi.

4. It was expected, that people give beyond the tithe requirement.

5. That at least in tithing on animals, it was the last 10 percent, not the first 10% that was tithed, the implication being that if a man gained 9 animals, he was not required to tithe from them.

6. The Priests received 1% of the required tithe (through the tithes of the Levites) plus free will offerings from the people, and some required payments in addition to the tithes.


Now, as we have noted, Israel was a theocratic government. This tithe, was compulsory, to support that government. In modern vernacular, we would call this a tax. This money was necessary to support that government, so that the priests and Levites could devote themselves to those duties. On point number 5 above, you can see this as a progressive tax, one where the poor are not taxed. If it was the first ten percent, a man with ten animals would have none left in ten years, if his animals were not reproducing.

Prior to God setting aside the Levites, He had a different system in place. The first born males of all families belonged to the Lord. God had Moses count them up, and give the Levites to Aaron instead of the first borns. Their number was 22273 (Num 3:43) . There were more firstborns than Levites, so it was not an even trade. To even the deal out, God had the Israelites cough up some money to compensate for the loss of helpers, God had Moses charge the firstborns 5 shekels, for each firstborn in excess of the number of Levites, and give the money to Aaron. In place of the firstborn of sheep and cattle, which were also consecrated to God, God had Moses confiscate the cattle and sheep of the Levites.

O.K. So now we have a system of government in place, and a way to pay for it through a taxation of 10%. That might seem to be the basic story of tithing, obviously we just glanced at the major points and did not examine the tiniest details, after all, we are looking to see what is appropriate in Christian practice, and so far, we are looking at laws specifically enacted for Israel. However, we are not done with Israel's tithe. In Jewish tradition and practice, there is what is known as the second tithe. This one is also interesting. We see the second tithe in Deuteronomy.

Deut 12:5-7
5 But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the LORD your God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. 6 And there you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first-born of your herd and of your flock. 7 There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

This is looking forward to the establishment of the Temple, at Jerusalem. I left a lot out here from this chapter, I suggest that you read in later, for the sake of knowing these historical aspects, but it consumes to much time to examine here. However, let's examine this second tithe further in some of it's more interesting details.

The second tithe was to pay for the national festivals. The main idea here was to celebrate certain days by traveling to Jerusalem, and bringing a lot of food to party with, a real banquet. I am going to post the scriptures on a lot of what is coming, but you may not have time to read it, there is quite a bit to cover in a little time, so I am going to post the passages and then a short summary of what they said. If you can read quickly, feel free, if not, you can read the summaries. As I said, it will all be available for you to read later.

Deut 12:10-14
10 When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, 11 then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God shall choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD. 12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. 13 Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see, 14 but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

Summary: Once you get to the promised land, and God chooses a place for the center of worship, bring all of your tithes, offerings, sacrifices etc., there. You and your household, and your servants and the Levites, will all join with you.

Deut 12:15-17
15 "However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.

Summary: Eat whatever you like at home, except blood.

Deut 12:17-19
17 You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain, or new wine, or oil, or the first-born of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. 18 But you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all your undertakings. 19 Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.

Summary: You are not allowed to eat your tithe and offerings at home, you must bring that to Jerusalem. (Jerusalem did not exist yet, remember this is for after they enter the promised land)

Now, in Deuteronomy 14, we see an interesting allowance made for those who live a long way from Jerusalem. As you can imagine, you had to drive your sheep and cattle there, and haul your grail, oil, wine etc. Quite a burden. So, here was the solution to that dilemma:

Deut 14:24-27
24 And if the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 And you may spend the money for whatever your heart desires, for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you.

Summary: If Jerusalem is too far to haul all of your tithe, sell it of and bring the money instead. Then you can use the money to buy whatever you like, meat, wine, or strong drink, and you and your household can celebrate the in the presence of the Lord your God. Be sure to invite the Levites too

(Note, this passage alone, should put an end to the notion that drinking alcohol is necessarily sinful, BUT, it DOES NOT erase the fact that drunkenness and addictions are sinful, and that the consumption of such things can stumble other people.)

Let's remind ourselves of what we have now:

A first tithe, 10%, plus other offerings are expected, a second tithe (perhaps on what is left - so maybe 10% or 9%, depending on how you understand it). So at this point, we are over 20% certainly. are we done with tithing in the Old Testament? No, we are not. Next, we come to what was called the year of tithing.

Deut 26:12

12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

This was also referred to as the poor tithe, this is where the food was brought in to the town storehouses, and amounted to about 3% of your income. This, since it was mandated, was another tax, just as in modern countries, which supports the poor. It is an ancient welfare system.

I had originally planned to have much more material covered here tonight, we have not even gotten to the New Testament yet. We still have a few verses that we should look at in the Old Testament, but we will have to consider this part one, the history of tithing I guess. Next time, we will finish of the O.T  and look further into the New Testament model, and tackle other topics such as the prosperity of the believer, free will giving, responsibility to support ministry, stewardship of God's blessing etc.

Let me make some final observations and recap from tonight's study, before going on to one last passage for the night:

Tithing is a practice that goes back before the Laws Moses gave to the people. Other cultures tithed on crops and the spoils of war, the concept was not new or foreign to the Hebrews, however, such tithes were not instituted by God. The law, however, was given to the Hebrews, to set them apart from other people, it was specifically to them. There are moral laws, that are applicable to all people, don't murder, don't steal etc. These things are basic sins that everyone understands. The tithing statues we examined, were specifically given to the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the people called Israel.

So far, we have not seen any reason to apply these laws to any other people. Whether we should role them over into the Christian Church, as the New Israel - the grafted in branch, we will examine next time. For any whose mind is fixed on the idea that we should, remember then that the proper amount to tithe, is not 10%, but 23% or more.

We have also seen, that the tithe was to support the role of government. Read the book of Leviticus, and you will see that the priests and the Levites, did all sorts of things that we now give to our governments and other non-spiritual institutions, some examples are home inspections, health departments, and welfare administration, to name just a few. We do that in most modern countries through taxation. In the United States, were I live, this is true for the governmental functions, but not the priestly functions, which the government does not pay for, so we will look into those aspects in the next study on this topic.

We saw that the Levites received the tithe, because they were forbidden to own or inherit property, they we allowed no income aside from this method, nor were they allowed employment outside of their duties as servants to the priest and the tabernacle.

We saw that the priests received a tithe from the tithe, and also were not allowed to own property etc. We also saw that the priest derived most of their income, from offerings outside of the tithe.

We saw that the Levites, who were the recipients of the tithe, were not involved in the worship activities and priestly duties, their function was only an administrative position and one of maintenance worker, they were servants to the priests.

We saw that tithes only consisted of food, not money.

While we did look at the first tithe and the second tithe, and the year of tithing every 3 years, we did not look at the other laws instituted as way of having your income reduced for the sake of others. If you planted a field, you had to harvest it in a circle, and leave the corners for the poor. If your fields was square, that would mean that you left 21% for the poor. If you were transporting your hay on a cart, and it fell off, you were not allowed to pick it up, you had to leave that for the poor also. There was also an annual half shekel temple tax which you had to pay. Start estimating and adding some of these things up, and you can see why the Jews were unhappy with paying all of these things contained in their law, and in addition have to pay taxes to the Romans while they occupied Israel during Jesus time. Israel was still self governing - it had it's own government and laws which it had to pay for, under Jewish law.

We saw that the priests  got only 1% of the all of the food of the land by statute, the tithe of the tithe, and that this was brought to the storehouse in Jerusalem. The tithes of the Levites, were eaten by the Levites, where they lived, not in the storehouse. Only the priests ate from the storehouse food, not the Levites.

Of the 16 verses in the Bible that describe what the tithe consists of, they all describe foodstuffs, never money, never the works of mans hands, only produce - from life that God created. As a practice, this was still true in Jesus time, after all, Jesus was a Jew, born under the law.

The last passage we shall look at tonight, is the last verse mentioning tithing in the Old Testament. This one, unfortunately is frequently abused in sermons on tithing. Now, I am sure there are good, accurate, Spirit led sermons on tithing, but too many sermons on tithing seem to be given for the purpose of stimulating an increase in income at the local church. The effect, and perhaps the intent, is to make Christians feel guilty, who do not tithe. In some cases, people are  motivated to give more than they can afford. We will talk about that aspect in our next study, where we examine the New Testament. In my opinion, the proper way to do that, is to simply come before the congregation, explain the need, and ask the congregation to consider giving to that need, and let them work out for themselves, how much they will give to the need. Here is the passage:

Mal 3:8-10

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it
.

By now, you should be jumping to the conclusion ahead of me, that this instruction, is once again, given to Israel, "even this whole nation". The question is asked, "Will a man rob God?" God specifically said in instituting the statutes on tithing, that these are payments required by God, to do what Jesus later said to do, "render unto God, what is God's". Failing to tithe, was therefore robbing God, you were keeping from Him the portion reserved for Him.

Now, many may disagree with me on the next point, but where verse 10 challenges the reader to "prove" or "test God", I don't think He is so much saying that you give money, and you will get money, as we have seen, tithes and offering were mostly food. Instead, I think God is saying, that in as much as you are obedient to His commands, He will bless that. Notice, that He says that the blessing He pours are from heaven, you will not have room enough to receive it. Think about that in it's actual context. Basically, he is saying that the land will bring forth for them, so much produce, that it will overflow their barns. Try transferring that idea to a modern context, where some would have you believe that this is relevant for the church and cash tithing. Personally, I have never seen a bank, which will say, sorry, do not bring any more money, we do not have room for it.

Do you see how inappropriate this is to try to force Old Testament tithing laws into the modern church? It is uncalled for, and worse, there is nothing scriptural about it.

I hope you learned something that you did not know. I suggest that you read all of the passages in your favorite bible version, and look them over in their contexts, taking the time to understand them in that way.

As I promised, this study is available to you online, where you can have the time to pick it apart and scrutinize it. You can find it at:

 http://www.omegazine.com/biblestudy/tithe_1.html

Next time, we will explore the role of the church, money, prosperity, charity, giving, and funding the local church and other works done out of our love for God and our savior.

Thank you everyone for your patience. I know it is not easy to hang in there that long, I really appreciate that you made that effort.

I have said all that I have to say for tonight, would someone care to close in prayer?

If anyone has any questions, or would like to make some comments, we can spend some time discussing them. This concludes part one of the study. I should mention that on the online version, I have listed all of the verses that I can discover that use the original Hebrew language words translated as tithe or tenth.

(End of live study - Part One on the tithe)

Part 2 is here

 

List of Verses

Following are all of the verses that I can discover that use the original Hebrew language words translated as tithe or tenth. Not in all cases, will this refer to tithing to the Lord, I just wanted to present the complete inventory of verses employing these words. It is up to you, to check the context for application.

Occurrences of  ma` aser, generally rendered as "tithe" or "tenth part":

Gen 14:18-20

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Lev 27:30-32

30 And 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.
31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
32 And 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.

Num 18:21-28

21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.
23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.
24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.
27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD's heave offering to Aaron the priest.

Deut 12:6-12

6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.
10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.

Deut 12:13-18
13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
14 But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
15 Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.


Deut 14:23-29

23 And 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.
24 And 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:
25 Then 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:
26 And 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,
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
28 At 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:
29 And 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; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Deut 26:12-14

12 When 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;
13 Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:
14 I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.

2 Chron 31:5-12

5 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the fields; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
6 And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.
7 In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
8 And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.
9 Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.
10 And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
11 Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them,
12 And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.

Neh 10:37-39

37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
39 For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

Neh 12:44

44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.

Neh 13:5

5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.

Neh 13:12

12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.

Ezek 45:11-15

11 The ephah and the bath shall be of one measure, that the bath may contain the tenth part of an homer, and the ephah the tenth part of an homer: the measure thereof shall be after the homer.
12 And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs: twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be your manneh.
13 This is the oblation that ye shall offer; the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of wheat, and ye shall give the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of barley:
14 Concerning the ordinance of oil, the bath of oil, ye shall offer the tenth part of a bath out of the cor, which is an homer of ten baths; for ten baths are an homer:
15 And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Amos 4:4-5

4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

Mal 3:8-10

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Now, many of the following verses will seem redundant, the reason is some of the verses use more that one Hebrew word to convey the idea of a tenth.

Gen 28:22

22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Deut 14:22

22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

Deut 26:12

12 When 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;

1 Sam 8:15-17

15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

Neh 10:37-38

37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.