Saturday, September 13, 2008

Freed from Tithing, Free to Give - Part 3

Let's Make it Clear Again: Tithe, or Tithes?
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


  1. “Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10).

    It's new wine and not old wine!
    New wine refers to New Covenant

  2. Joel,
    I think most the people who promote tithing and desperately trying to prove that it is applicable today as a NT principle, are those who chose their career as pastors/ministers. They feel insecure to teach grace for what it is because they don't really believe in grace in the first place. They worry about mortgages, pay checks etc.

    I challenge them to teach the free will giving under grace, and see if they are going to receive less or more offering. I can guarantee you it is going to be much more!

    I, personally know pastors who take a look into people's tithe records and even treat them based on that. Tithing is one of the most ridiculous way of manipulating people. It is nothing but using godliness as means to financial gain.

  3. We are blessed to be a blessing..
    We are blessed to tithe.. but not tithe to get His blessings. If you don't believe in tithing, please do not tithe. :)

  4. Hi Cyberanger,

    (BTW, I've always meant to comment that it's hard to type "Cyberanger" without wanting to type two "r's" in a row in the middle. :)

    I'm fully aware of Jesus speaking about new wine and old wineskins and new wineskins, and how that relates to the New Covenant, but I'm not so sure I agree that all instances of "new wine" in the Old Testament scriptures (there are several) refer to the New Covenant.

    In this particular verse, the words of Solomon, he is referring directly to the Old Covenant laws that he had been taught about firstfruits, which I will get into in the next few posts. And as I sit here thinking about it, since I've already prepared most of these posts in advance, it's fresh in my mind that in some cases the thing that is to be tithed is actually "new wine." I'm not sure how we put that into a New Covenant context. We "tithe" the New Covenant? :)

    And obviously I do not believe in tithing, so I don't tithe. I am a "giver," but I am not a "tither." :)

  5. Bino,

    I fully agree, and I can relate, having been a part of churches that wrongfully correlate the Old Covenant tithes with giving "to" a church. That's one reason I will take a look at what "the church" actually is. We are the church. We can't give "to" a church, because we "are" a church. If a body of believers in a local community happens to organize themselves and purchases a building, then they can all help to support all of that, but there just is no real correlation between the Levitical tithing system (which I'll begin to get into in Part 4) and "the church" of today.

    Like you, I've known of pastors who look into people's tithing records. Some have even required the "leadership" to submit their tax records to prove that they have "tithed" ten percent of their income to the church. It's sickening.

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  7. You may want to listen to this..

    Hope you will be enlightened too.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. hi Joel,
    Under New Covenant, we get to BRING the tithe before the LORD, simply because the tithe belongs to the LORD.

  10. What a curious discussion. Any time the law was discussed, Jesus raised the bar. 10% doesn't belong to God; 100% does. Our very breath belongs to Him; does He get 10 of every 100 breaths? :)
    The law was fulfilled so that we could walk in freedom in the understanding that we are not our own; we have been bought with a price. Nickel and dimeing God is somewhat insulting to the cross; our life in Christ didn't come with a mortgage payment.

  11. RJW,

    Exactly! Tithing wasn't done to get the people to give to the Lord what belonged to Him. If that were the purpose, then it wouldn't be a tenth, but rather 100%. Tithing was simply set up to provide for the tribe of Israel that hadn't received an inheritance from the Lord.