A few times we see some odd instructions about the tithes. But it's odd only from the perspective that this stuff is never taught in churches who seem so gung ho on the tithe! Hmmm... why is that? :) This passage from Deuteronomy is one of those interesting ones. Read it, and tell me if this will really preach in churches. In all my life, I had never heard this passage until I saw it for myself.
Deut 14:24-29 "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.Wow! Where has the church been hiding this one! The people were to take the tithe and eat it! (And drink it). And not only that, but if the place the Lord had set up was too far for them, they were to take the tithe and exchange it for money, and spend the money on whatever their hearts desired! And they were to eat and to rejoice before the Lord. This passage also highlights again the very important fact that the Levites had no inheritance, and so the people were to not forsake them with their tithes, and they were also to store up their tithes every third year for the sake of "the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow." Again, all of this was directly relational to the Old Covenant system in which they lived.
28 "At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
And what about all the other instructions?
Right along with all of the passages that have to do with tithing instructions are many other instructions for the people of Israel. I think it's very interesting that the people of the Christian church will dig into these Old Covenant scriptures, totally ignoring all the other Old Covenant practices (rightfully so), and yet pulling out "the tithe" as something they teach and practice as a New Covenant principle! Again, all of these tithing passages, along with their surrounding verses and chapters, give many more rules and instructions that were a part of that system.
So if you're going to stick with the Old Covenant practice of tithing (which you'll by necessity have to take out of context if you're going to use it in the church), then please tell me that you keep the other instructions too! There are instructions about cutting and shaving, rules about what animals, birds and water creatures could be eaten and not eaten, and there were even rules about boiling a young goat in its mother's milk! And please tell me you don't eat bacon, ham, lobster or other "unclean" creatures!
Also, what about the instructions to stone people (Deut 13), and the instructions to go into other cities which serve other gods, and kill the people with swords, utterly destroying the city and all its livestock, plundering the city and burning it in the middle of the street? Sounds like a fun "outreach!" What about every seven years, all creditors being required to release the debts of their debtors? The point is... All of these instructions were given to the same people and in the same context as the instructions on tithing, so why do we preach "the tithe," but leave out all the rest?
So many unnecessary questions come up in the Christian church because of how all these scriptures are manipulated! "Do I tithe off of my gross or net income?" "What is meant by "firstfruits?" "What is meant by tithing off of the 'increase?'" The truth is, we need not be concerned with any of that because all of those passages have to do with the children Israel functioning under the Old Covenant. None of it, including the tithes, has anything to do with Christians living in the New Covenant!
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