I've entitled this series "The Tithe," but to repeat a point I made earlier, we're talking about tithes (plural). "The tithe" (ten percent of your income, given to your local church) is what is (wrongfully) taught in churches today. But contrary to what seems to be a common belief, there is more than one tithe in the Bible. There is not simply one "blanket" tithe from which we get our information about tithing. As we look closely, we see that each tithe has its own purposes. Different tithes are put to different uses. And just as a reminder (as I've previously mentioned), the tithes mentioned in Malachi 3 were not original tithing instructions, but rather were brought up because the Lord was rebuking the people for not keeping the tithes they had previously been commanded to keep. The reason I want to put special emphasis on this is simply because Malachi 3 is the predominant passage that the church wrongfully highlights when teaching the tithe - wrongfully in more way than one, as we'll see in this series.
It's also important to mention that the tithes never have anything to do with financial earnings or income, nor the handing over of finances to any individual or entity. Money does come into the picture one time in the tithing instructions, and when we get to that you may just be surprised at how it plays out in that particular tithing law! In the end, my hope here is to show the stark contrast between "the tithe" as it's taught in churches and "the tithes" as they are taught in scripture, and to show how the teaching of "the tithe" in Christian churches is way out of line.
The Mandatory Tithes - Law
Aside from Abram's voluntary tithe to Melchizedek and Jacob's promise to voluntarily tithe all of what God gave him, the rest of the mentions of tithing in scripture have to do with tithes (again, plural) that were mandatory, according to God's laws. You will thank me :) for not copying and pasting all of the scriptures that pertain to tithing into this series of posts (copied from my PC Study Bible), because when pasted onto a Word document it takes up about 6 full pages! My purpose here is not to give an in-depth analysis of all of the tithing instructions but rather to lay out the gist of the tithes for the purpose of showing that tithing was an Old Covenant practice that had specific purposes, having absolutely nothing to do with New Covenant saints giving 10 percent of their income to local churches. And in fact I think we'll find that we really don't want to use these tithes as a "type" of New Covenant giving, because it gets quite complicated due to all the rules, options and variables involved in each tithe!
The next time tithing is mentioned is in Leviticus 27. This particular passage has to do with instructions about "redeeming" people and property dedicated to the Lord. Instead of getting into what all that means (and it does mean something - within the context of the times and purposes of these particular instructions), I want to use this passage to point out the folly of taking scriptures out of context, as is always the case when teaching tithing as a Christian principle.
Lev 27:29-32 No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death. 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 to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.What's this about being put to death? What's this about redeeming tithes, and adding one-fifth to it? What's this about one-tenth of the tithe passing under the rod being holy to the Lord and not being redeemed? My point here is that as with ALL tithes, and ALL Old Covenant laws, ordinances and instructions, we aren't to "Christianize" them. After all, if we're going to grab the "tithe" verses out of passages like this, shouldn't we also add the "put to death" verses as well? And the "redeem his tithes" verses? In the end what we are to do is to understand that these were Old Covenant practices - and we leave them in their Old Covenant contexts!
Coming up: The "tithe" instructions get even more interesting (and fun as well)! We'll see how it's so very easy for preachers to simply pluck out Malachi 3 and misapply it in the church today, but yet if those same preachers were to look into the true purposes and applications of the tithes, they'd have to chuck it all aside because it simply wouldn't work in the church! (Which is kind of the point here, anyway).
Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10