Nearly every church going Christian is familiar with an offering plate being passed around during Sunday services, while hearing the preacher speak about giving a tithe. During such, he or she will then quote verses from Malachi about stealing from God to let the audience members know that it is their duty to give a tenth to God.
Many who have grown up in the church and those who have joined in later years, give a tithe to the church in fear of arousing God's anger towards them and in hopes of seeing some financial or physical rewards down the road; or at the very least, having their needs met. The majority of tithers give a tenth, as taught, before ever paying a debt.
Few have ever stopped to think about what a tithe is or where it came from, while another portion of believers can tell you that it started with the Levitical priesthood, others will assert that it began with Abraham giving a tenth of the spoils of war to the priest Melchizedek. In this study, we are going to look at a tithe and why God ordained it to begin with. We are also going to examine if that inheritance has been passed from the Levitical priesthood to the modern preachers of today.
WILL A MAN ROB GOD?
Malachi 3:8 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet, you have robbed me. But you say, wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.” To fully understand what is going on within a verse in chapter 3, we must read from the beginning of Malachi. As we progress, you will see how little this one verse actually tells us when it is taken out of context and spoken by itself.
Was it written to someone? If so, who and were there questions being answered that we do not have, or is it addressing a situation or sin? Did God command something of them that they were refusing to do? Many questions could be asked of this verse.
To help answer these questions, lets travel all the way back to when the children of Israel came out of Egypt and the land was divided among them. Eleven tribes got land but the tribe of Levi got no land. God explained to them why in Numbers 18:20-23, “And the Lord spoke unto Aaron, You shall have no inheritance in the land, neither shall you have any part among them. I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel. And behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth (tithe) of Israel for an inheritance, for their service, which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: It shall be a statue forever throughout all your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.” (Also see Joshua 13:33 & Deuteronomy 10:8)
In these biblical times, the Levites were the only ones allowed in or near the tabernacle of the congregation, any other Israeli tribe member would die. All the other tribes had to go through a Levitical priest to get access to God.
The Levitical priest were basically the government of Israel, as it was also their duty to care for the widow, fatherless, and sojourner who came into Israel. When someone was thrown out for leprosy and recovered, they were not told to go to a doctor, but to go show themselves to a priest.
Keep this in mind as we study further.
In Numbers 18:25-26, “And the Lord spake to Moses, saying this speak to the Levites and say to them, When you take the tithes of the children of Israel which I have given you from them as an inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe.”
So as we have seen so far, eleven of the twelve tribes were given land but the tribe of Levi got no land, instead, they received a tenth of what the other tribes produced from their lands as an inheritance. This included cattle, fruit, grains, herbs, olive oil, and wine.
We also read that in turn, it was the Levites who were to give a tenth of the tithes they received back to God, and this tithe was called a heave offering. But how did they give this tenth to God?
UNDERSTANDING TITHES & OFFERINGS
I know it gets confusing with all of the different offerings that we have read about in the scriptures, and many Christians have ignored or briefly passed over them because they see them as insignificant due to the fact that we are under a new covenant with Christ. And through Messiah Christ, the need for any sacrifices were fulfilled, whereby, these things are no longer necessary.
Church goers and those who watch celebrity pastors from their home television, perceive those teaching from the pulpit as having a better understanding of the scriptures than they do. They are falsely under the idea that they must go to college and obtain an education to receive such knowledge. This is not true. If we are honest, there are hundreds of biblical scholars who have done just that and still there remains many passages that they can't agree on; their debates are endless. This happens because men depend on men and their own understanding, rather than fasting and praying for God's wisdom and knowledge. Even the scriptures tell us that we do not need man to teach us anything, for the Holy Spirit will teach us all things (1 John 2:27).
Man is fallible, the almighty one who sits upon His throne in heaven is not. This is why I tell you to always study for yourselves. Do not just read your Bible but KNOW your Bible, so that no one can deceive you.
We are going to look at the five sacrifices & their purpose; which are burnt offering, peace offering, sin offering, meal offering, and trespass/guilt offering.
A heave offering, was the tithe to God. It was a separated portion of a Levitical tithe that was ceremonially raised and lowered in dedication to God and afterward, the offering was reserved for the priest's use.
The right shoulder/thigh was given to God as a heave offering and the breast of the animal was a wave offering. Both pieces were given to the priest for he and his family to eat. The remaining flesh of the sacrifice was given to the offerer to eat, which was usually shared with family and friends in the presence of the Almighty.
For a wave offering, the sacrifice was held in the hand's of the one who was offering with the priest's hands under the offerer's. It was then waved towards the altar and then back from the altar. Giving it to the God and then receiving it back from Him as a gift.
The wave and heave offerings are peace offerings, in which the donor gets back a portion of the offering. The peace offering did not deal in making atonement for sins or any wrong doings. The peace offering could be of a male or of a female cow, goat, or sheep. The offerer would bring it before the door of the tabernacle where a priest would inspect it. The offerer would then kill the sacrifice at the door of the tabernacle and the priest would then take over and do as the Lord had commanded him. Sometimes this offering was made along with grains. (Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-36)
A meat offering could be fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense or unleavened cakes that were baked or fried on the stove with fine flour, salt, and oil. They could also bring wafers anointed with oil. The priest would take it and burn it upon the altar. Any meat offering left over, all the male Levites were to consume. (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-23) The meat offering was never to be flesh of any kind.
The meat offering was offered to God as an everlasting covenant. Some have compared this to the bread we now eat with wine/juice during what we know in the new covenant as the “communion”. As Christ had commanded to “take and eat, because it was his body that was given for us”, Luke 22:14-20. There were private meat offerings that were voluntary and then there were public meat offerings that were mandatory.
The burnt offering was not an offering that was required but was solely a voluntary act of worship. It could be a male Bull or sheep without blemish. The offerer would bring the sacrifice before the door of the tabernacle and kill it. The son's of Aaron would then take over and perform their duties as was commanded by God.
They could also bring a pigeon or a turtledove, the priest would take it to the altar and perform the duties that were commanded of him. (Leviticus 1:3-17; 6:8-13)
A Sin offering had to be a young bull and was brought before the door of the tabernacle and was killed by the offerer. The priest would take over and perform his ordained duties.. (Leviticus 4:1-5:13; 6:24-30) A sin offering was to make an atonement for sin.
A trespass offering is the only offering where money was actually given. A trespass is where one had done harm to another and involved responsibility for loss in the property of a fellow Israelite. In this case, the offerer would bring a ram with the estimated shekels of silver for the damage done, and bring them before the door of the tabernacle to make amends for the harm that was wrought. He should add to it a fifth for the priest. The priest then takes the ram and makes an atonement for the trespasser. (Leviticus 5:14-6:7; 7:1-10)
Notice that the only place where money is given to a priest is to correct a wrong and is a 5th of what the damages are to the other party, not a tenth.
The sacrifices for the Jews ended in 70AD after the last temple was destroyed but they believe that they will resume after the 3rd temple is built. Jews today do not give a tenth to any Rabbi but they give a tenth of all they have to their fellow man while they wait for the third temple and the Levitical priesthood to resume their duties. As the Jews do not believe that Christ was the messiah.
1 Samuel 15:22 says, “And Samuel said, Does the Lord delight in offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
In Deuteronomy 14:28-29, at the end of every three years, all the tithes of the increase would be gathered and brought to the Levites, and then the Levites would feed the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.
THE LEVITICAL ROLE
The Levites had a very important role within the community of the tribes of Israel. It was their job to keep up the tabernacle, accept the offerings of the people, be the doctor, be the judge, be the law and the government of all the tribes of Israel.
They were to inspect each sacrifice to be certain that it meets the qualifications of being “unblemished”. Meaning that the sacrifice was to be healthy. Not blind, lame, aged, mangy, beat up, sickly and all ready at death's door.
The tithes and offerings were of food, fine flour, oil, herbs, and incense; and only when one was injured by the actions of another was there money involved. This understanding will be important later when we come back to Malachi.
The Levites received the tithes of food and offerings, not because they were religious leaders but because God was their inheritance. They were the government body of the other eleven tribes who received land. They received no land for growing crops or raising livestock.
TITHES IN OT ISRAEL
The Israelites gave a tithe called a festival tithe. They usually had to walk long distances to the temple in Jerusalem and were instructed that if this walk was too long for them to take their offering, then they were to exchange their offering for money, then take that money with them. BUT!!! they were not to tithe with the money, they were to buy whatever their heart desired, even strong drink and “shall eat it before the Lord your God”, Deuteronomy 14:22-26.
There was the Levitical tithe that was given to the Levites, which was a tenth of all the crops, herbs, spices, livestock, incense, and oil that the other eleven tribes gained. (Numbers 18:21-24)
Lastly, there was a tithe of a heave offering to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)
Often times people will bring up how Abraham made a tithe to Melchizedek. We read in Genesis 14 how armies had invaded Sodom and took many people hostage, including Abraham's beloved nephew, Lot. When Abraham heard, he gathered an army and went after them, overtaking the invading army and rescuing his family, alongside many others; and they also brought back the spoils of the war. Abraham did not tithe out of what he previously owned, but he gave to Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils of war. The tithe was out of his gain, not that which he all ready possessed.
Hebrews 7:5-12, “And verily, those that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: but he whose decent is not counted from them, received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here are men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. And as I may say so, Levi also, who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. If therefore perfection was by Levitical priesthood, (for under it, people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made a necessity, a change also of law.”
We continue reading in Hebrews 7:13-16, “For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of the tribe of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for after the similitude of Melchizedek there arises another priest, who is made, not after the law of carnal commandments, but after the power of an endless life.”
There are some that read these verses and state that because the Levitical priest tithed through Abraham, that followers should therefore tithe to the Gentile leaders of the church or those who are tasked with spreading the gospel.
But that interpretation is contradictory to other scripture which we will read shortly. What the author of these scriptures was explaining is that the law of that time had required a priest to be a Levite from the lineage of Aaron. The author was using tithes as an example because under the carnal law of the Torah's restrictions, only Levites were to receive tithes; it was their inheritance. Melchizedek was used, because he was a priest that was not from the tribe of Levi, yet he received tithes from the father of the Levites. Thus, it was possible that Christ being from the tribe of Judah, could be a legitimate priest.
Melchizedek, like Christ was also a king. It is then inferred that the priesthood of Melchizedek continues to this day in the on going priestly work of our Messiah.
Melchizedek's priesthood existed before Aaron, yet his priesthood was greater than Aaron, since Aaron gave him tithes through Abraham. And as we have learned, collecting tithes was a responsibility of the priesthood. Therefore Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. He does not need to be from the Levitical lineage to be a priest, since he too was before Levi, his priesthood is much greater.
If we read other new testament passages, the author was not concluding that the Levitical tithe had been transferred. He was rationalizing how Christ could be a greater priest and not be a Levite.
DID CHRIST RECEIVE TITHES?
Knowing now that Christ was seen as a high priest, it is relevant to see if he ever collected tithes or commanded that they be collected. Lets see what he had to say of them, if any thing.
Some will claim that Christ affirmed tithing in Luke 11:42 & Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!! For you pay tithe of mint and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these things ought you have done, and not to have left the other undone.”
Many read this without taking into account that all were still under the law which required a blood sacrifice for sin. A sacrifice which Christ fulfilled the need for. The tithe was also the inheritance of the Levites and only the Levites were to tithe out of the tithes they received to God.
Christ was calling out the religious leaders for being hypocrites. We can in fact find several verses where he uses the Pharisees and Scribes as examples when speaking about hypocrisy. This should tell us a lot about their prideful arrogant character and how much Christ had a disdain for it.
With Christ being the high priest, can you think of anywhere in scripture where Christ received a tithe? I cannot. I can however find verses where he gave a command to those he sent out to spread the gospel.
He made it clear that those who spread the gospel would be cared for. In Matthew 10:1-10, Christ was sending out disciples and giving them power over unclean spirits, and to heal all manner of sickness and diseases, power to raise the dead, and power to cleanse the lepers. In verse 8, he says, “Freely, you have received, freely give.” To put it bluntly, this didn't cost you a thing, so do not use this power or authority as a business making scheme.
In verses, 9-10, “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for a workman is worthy of his meat.” Another words, God will provide but provide what? Lets look in Luke 10:2-7, Christ sent out 70 by twos. He gives them the same power over devils, sickness, disease, death, and to cleanse the lepers. He tells them that the harvest is great, to salute no man along the way, and to carry nothing with them. Verses 5-7, “And whatsoever house you enter, first say, peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall return to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”
So Christ told those he ordained and sent out to not even take with them the simple things. He never told them to collect a tithe or to charge for a healing. He did tell them to accept whatever they were given because a workman is worthy of his hire. There was no set amount. People could give much or give little.
NEW LAW TITHING
We are going to look at other scriptures that have been taken out of context to support the Levitical inheritance having been switched to the gentiles.
1 Corinthians 9:6-14, Paul was writing to the church at Corinth. He basically was asking, who works and does not reap the bounty of his work. In verse 9, he says, “For it is written in the law of Moses, you shall not muzzle the mouth of an ox that treads out the corn. Does God not care for the oxen?” He continues in verse 10 about the one who plows.
In verses 11-12, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap in your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power of you, are not we rather? Nevertheless, we have not used this power, but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.”
We see here that Paul, who was tasked with taking the gospel of Christ to the gentiles, never mentioned a tithe or a percentage of anything being given to him. He just simply stated about carnal things being shared. He did also say that those who did such things were asserting power over another and that he would not do it because he did not want to hinder the gospel of Christ.
Acts 4:32-35, Peter was collecting money from everyone who sold their possessions and land. “And a multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of that the things they possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostle's feet: and distribution was made unto every man according to as he had need.”
This is also not a tithe. This was a commune. They still have these around the world today. Some are non-religious, some are occultic, few are Christ based; so be cautious if you seek to join one. But again, no tenth was ever mentioned. Here people gave all, so they had all things common.
WHY WAS THE TITHE NOT MONEY
Before we make our way back around to Malachi, lets explore scriptures to see why the spoken tithe had nothing to do with money, but it was of things which came from the land.
Leviticus 27:30-32, “And concerning the tithe of the land, whether of the seed or of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man shall at will redeems part of his tithe, he must add to it a fifth. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, even whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 14 also speaks of tithing agricultural things and not money, or as they had in Israel at the time, shekels. This makes sense because it was God who provided the crops, the herds, and the flocks. These things all bear his autograph.
In Matthew 22:15-21, we read about how the religious leaders were trying to stump Christ. They sent to him one of their own disciples who asked him if it was lawful to give tribute/taxes to Caesar or not. Christ caught on to what was going on and told the Pharisees' disciple to show him the money.
Verses 20-21, “And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then said he to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” Again, whose image is on your currency? Does it bear the signature of God? Was it created by God or by man? God wants a tenth of what is HIS back.
Somewhere along the generations of the gospel being poured out, people decided to keep what bared God's image & belonged to God, and give God a tenth of what bared man's image.
Malachi is a really short book, which leaves little reason for anyone to not read it for themselves, so I highly suggest it. But we are going to take time to review it in context, now that we have a better understanding of the laws and customs of tithing within the tribes of Israel.
In the first chapter, we are told that this word of God is being given by Malachi. He starts off with how God has loved them. How he loved Jacob but hated his brother Esau. If God be the Father, then where is his honor. He goes on to say that the priests have polluted his altar. He says that they have offered the blind, lame, and sick upon his altar and he calls it “evil”.
Chapter 2 starts off with, “Oh you priests, this commandment is for you.” He continues to say that if they will not hear and give glory to God's name that He will curse their blessings. He will corrupt their seed and spread dung on their faces. This covenant is with Levi, he gave him fear and he feared His name. The truth was in his mouth and iniquity was not found in him; he turned many away from iniquity. The priest's lips should keep knowledge and seek the law, but you have departed out of the way and have caused many to stumble at the law. You have not kept my ways but have been partial in the law. Have we not all one Father? Has God not created us all? Why do we deal treacherously with every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
In 2:11, “Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and has married the daughter of a strange god.” He ends chapter two by stating that they have said, that everyone that does evil is good in the sight of the Lord.
Recap: Thus far we have read how God was very wroth with the Levitical priests because of their blemished, nasty, rotten, sick, decaying sacrifices that they were putting upon His holy altar. We also read about His anger towards the tribe of Judah because one had married a woman who worshiped a strange god.
In chapter 3, we read about how God starts speaking of a messenger who will come before Him to prepare the way. (Also see Luke 1:17 & Malachi 4:5) He then states of Christ in verses 3-4, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
Recap: If you recall, it was the duty of the priests to make certain that the sacrifice was clean and that no unclean sacrifice was put upon the altar. Even though the other 11 tribes shared in the guilt because they knew better, it was the Levites who were the “gate keepers” of the altar. God was wroth with Levitical priests because it was them who were allowing these sickly unrighteous offers and they were the ones putting them upon the altar. And it was the religious leaders who Christ continuously used as examples of hypocrisy.
He was also pretty upset with the tribe of Judah for marrying a woman who worshiped strange gods. So God had told them that HE would provide Judah a perfect sacrifice. As we know, Christ was a perfect sacrifice from the tribe of Judah.
They are then warned of God's judgment against those who do witchcraft, adulterers, those who commit perjury, steal wages, oppress the widows and the fatherless, do not help strangers or fear the Lord.
He continues about how they have not kept the covenant of their fathers and have turned from His ordinances. He then says to return to Him and He will return to them.
WILL A MAN ROB GOD?
We have finally arrived at the famous verse used in many churches every service when the offering plate is passed and the preacher is giving his teaching on tithing. Lets see if we can rightfully divide these verses using the biblical knowledge we have obtained about the many different ritual sacrifices and the situation that was occurring in Malachi's time when sacrifices were the only atonement for sin.
In Malachi 3:8-11, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, says 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the LORD of hosts.”
Many preachers/pastors today have changed the meaning of these verses to conclude that their personal accounts and the Church's bank account is God's storehouse. Again, I would ask you whose signature in on the dollar bill and who created it, God or man? He was not burning with anger because of the lack of shekels being left on the altar, he was angry because the Levites were accepting sick, lame, dying, injured, disgusting animals for sacrifice and putting them on God's holy altar.
When these verses say to bring your tithes, it is literally speaking of the things which God created that bares the fingerprint of God. When God speaks of opening up the windows of heaven, he is speaking of Him watering the crops.
In the final Chapter of Malachi, we read more about the promise of Christ and how Elijah will come and turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. (See also Luke 1:17)
SOWING & REAPING
Hebrews 8:7-9, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he said, behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand and lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord.”
In verses 10-12, scripture states that God will make a new covenant with Israel and he will write his laws upon their hearts and every man shall know him from the least to the greatest. He will be merciful to the righteousness and he will remember their sins no more.
Recap: The old covenant was not the ten commandments as some teach, for Christ and his followers reiterates them in the new testament and Christ himself stated that he did not come to change the law but to fulfill it. The law and the covenant are different. What Christ fulfilled was the need for an altar and a blood sacrifice. He tore the veil, so that every believer could have direct access to God without going through a Levitical priest. Instead of God dwelling in a building made with hands, he now dwells inside everyone who Christ has redeemed.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “But this I say, he which sows sparingly, shall reap sparingly; and he which sows bountifully, shall reap bountifully. Every man, according as he has purposed in his heart, so let him give; not grudging or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Recap: The word necessity was translated from the word anagke, which means “imposed by circumstance or by law, calamity, or distress.” Necessity is defined as “being pressured by circumstance, physical or moral compulsion, an urgent need, desire, or requirement.”
Galatians 6:7-9, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
James 3:18, “And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE
First, I want to make clear that I am in no wise telling you that you sin in tithing. What you give or do not give, and to whoever or whatever cause you give to is between you and God. The thing I am trying to get you to see is that you have been taught a lot of verses erroneously. Some by those who were raised in error, so they continue to teach the error they learned, and others who are wolves and know better.
Yes, it is true that when you give in hopes of receiving nothing that God provides for you. God loves a cheerful giver and those who can detach from worldly possessions to fill a need for another being or to help in a ministry, service, or good cause. This is why many who “tithe” often have their needs met but what you need to understand is it is not because you gave a tenth, it is because you gave, seeking nothing in return.
I am going to show you verses that speak more biblically about giving and how we are to give now that Christ has redeemed us and sits at the right hand of God, because yes, you are to give. Its just not the Levitical tenth. Most Jews today do not give a Levitical tenth to their Rabbis or place of worship, because there is no temple and no Levitical priesthood. They do however, give a tenth of all they have to those in need. This interested me a lot because of how Christ said we are to give.
Lets look at some more verses. 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Most reading this may say, “I am not rich, what does this have to do with me”. Sisters and Brothers, while I agree with you that these verses were most likely speaking to those with abundance, I want you to take time to also look at this another way. There are always those who appear rich in the eyes of someone else. If you have a roof over your head and food on the table, you are wealthy in the eyes of those who have no place to lay their head and who have no idea where their next meal will come from. If you enjoyed a hot shower/bath, you are rich in the eyes of someone in the world who doesn't have running water.
Those in the suburbs with good credit scores are richer than those in the inner cities living paycheck to paycheck. The millionaires are wealthier than those in the suburbs; the billionaires are richer than the millionaires; and the trillionaires are richer than the billionaires. My point is that everyone can give something.
We can look at the example Christ gave in Mark 12:38-40, “And he said to them in his doctrine, beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the upper most rooms at feasts: which devour widow's houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”
Verses12:41-44, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
Some misuse these verses to say that people should give till it hurts, people should tithe and then give all they have left as an offering to the church, preacher, or some church function. That is in great error.
This was not about tithing or giving all you have to a spiritual Scribe or Pharisee, so they can stand up and tell how God made them rich and if you had the faith and the talent of a con man, then you too could be rich. (Least that is what they would say if they were honest)
He was saying that it is not how little you give out of your much, but its how much you give of your little: he was inferring to a heart issue. God lives upon a throne in a city with streets of Gold, He does not need or desire your money. He desires your obedience in the things He commanded of you.
WHAT WAS COMMANDED?
When deciding how we should give and who we should give to, its important to look at what Christ had to say. When asked about the greatest commandment, Christ reply was not that it was tithing but he said that it was to love the Lord God with all your heart and soul... then he added, “and the second is like unto it, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34 & John 15:12)
In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ says the goats will be separated from the sheep. The goats to the left and the sheep to the right. The ones on the left, he will say that he never knew them and they will go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. The to the ones one the right, he will say, “Come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the earth.” And these will go into everlasting life. The reason Christ gave behind the goats and the sheep is not because of what they did but because of what they didn't do.
The sheep are the ones who gave food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, took in the stranger, clothed the naked, visited those who were sick and in prison. The goats did none of these things. Christ added that “as we do so unto others, we do so unto him”. He did not say give money for someone else to do it, he said for YOU to do it. You cannot delegate what God commands of you to another, just as you cannot give your salvation to another person. Every one of us is to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
There are many scriptures that tell us that we should look after the fatherless, the widow, and the poor. Such verses are Exodus 22:22-24, Job 31:16-23, Jeremiah 7:5-7, & Psalm 82:2-4 just to list a few.
James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We have seen this consistency in the heart of Christ to love one another.
THE TWISTING OF GOD'S WORD
How many have heard news about churches in the United States who have pastors who have cast widows out of their congregation? Churches that they have gone to for decades, all because they couldn't afford to give a tenth of American man made dollars to the church. Knowing the heart of God, I think in the end he will tell these religious leaders that they ought to have given to the widow, instead of expecting the widow to give to them.
For every story that makes it to the news, there are probably a dozen, if not more that we never hear about. I would hate to have their reward. These wolves build up walls around hearts and damage the body of Christ, all for their lust of money. The scriptures do tell us that money is the root of all evil and the evil it does is plain to see.
1 Timothy 6:7-10, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be content with. But they that will be rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and dust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor dust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
The following verses 22-24 speak about the eye being the light of the body. If that eye is single, it is full of light, but if that light is evil, then it is full of dark. No man can serve two masters, because he will love the one and hate the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon/money.
Matthew 16:24-25 Christ says that if any man will come after him, let him first deny himself and take up his cross and follow him. For whosoever shall save their lives will lose it; and those who lose their life for his sake, will find it. Verses 26-27, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
The things which bare the signature of Caesar have replaced the desire for God.
When Christ sent the 70 out by twos and told them to take nothing with them but to accept whatever they were given. He commanded to give freely because freely they had received. In giving these orders, he was teaching them the ways under new covenant. Christ did not command those who he sent out to spread the gospel, heal the sick, or to cast out demons to collect a Levitical tithe. If this had been his intent under the new covenant, then he would have commanded it of the ones whom he sent. But his marching orders were different. Its “whatever they give you”.
We have also seen that a tithe that was given to God was a heave offering. When the heave offering was given to God, it was lifted upwards and downwards, but then it was not consumed upon the altar or spent, it was eaten by the priests.
The question is how does “You have robbed God of tithes and offerings” from Malachi apply today? When you fail to read the entirety of Malachi, you also fail to realize that that was settled when God sent a perfect unblemished sacrifice through Judah and the religious leaders made the sacrifice, atoning for the sins of all generations.
Modern day Pharisees/Scribes have taught the sheep that God has transferred the Levitical inheritance from the Levitical priests to the Gentile preachers/pastors. This is about as silly as modern day worshipers asserting that the inheritance of the other 11 tribes is theirs and trying to claim land in Israel because they have been grafted in. Scripture makes it clear that Christ, not man, replaced the Levitical priesthood.
We no longer go through a Levitical priest to access God, but we go through Christ. We no longer need to take a blood sacrifice or offering to a Levitical priest for atonement and peace, because Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for all. Christ did not change the law which required a tithe, a heave offering, a sin sacrifice, a peace offering, etc. He fulfilled it, this is the new covenant! Scripture states that Christ is the only way and we must strive to enter in. (John 14:6 & Matthew 7:13-14)
God expects us to fast, pray, forgive, love Him with all of our heart, soul, & mind; to love one another, not by giving a tithe to a church but by feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting those who are sick and in prison. Think of it like this, if we are the temple of God and the spirit of God resides within every believer, then when we care for one another, we care for Him.
Today's shepherds need to stop coveting the Levitical priest's inheritance and changing the definition of a tithe to their own gain. Give to god that which is God's and give to Caesar that which is Caesar's.
Again, not all preachers/pastors/teachers are wolves, some are the blind leading the blind.
2 Peter 2:1-3, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not.”
Now that we know what the Bible actually says of a tithe, I will state that there is no harm in giving to a church for its expenses or causes. And it is a duty to see to it that a pastor and his family have the necessities in life, but do not be fear mongered or guilt tripped into it. Give as much as your heart desires and as you are led to do. Always stand willing to share what you have with those who do not have.
Some sheep are so entangled with fulfilling the false teaching that they neglect to fulfill the true teaching. LOVE GOD & LOVE ONE ANOTHER!! Failing to do these two things will lead you to the fiery furnace.