If you are a faithful, stern, avid tither, first I would ask you why and what scriptural basis do you use to support it? Secondly, I would ask you to read the following with an open mind, letting go of preconceived notions. Remember, ALWAYS look to God’s Word for the truth, not what men teach. Don’t offer yourself up to be put into bondage when Christ’s death made us free…free from sin and free from the Law (of Moses).
Old Testament Tithing
Numbers 18:20-21 “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 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.” Numbers 18:24-“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.”
• The tithes were given to the tribe of Levi because they were not given a land inheritance. God would be their inheritance because He would command the children of Israel of the other tribes to provide for them because they had no land and devoted all their time to the Lord’s service. They didn’t have their own land to live off of to grow their own food and have their own animals, so we will see that the Lord had the children of Israel give a tenth of their food from their land and animals to feed the Levites.
Numbers 18:26-31 “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. 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. 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. Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.
• The WHOLE tribe of Levi was the recipient of the tithe. However, they were required to give a tenth of the tithe they received to the priests (Aaron and the sons of Aaron). Also, the tenth that went to the priest was to be “the best thereof”. If tithe is money, how does one pick out what’s the best among it? Money has a set value. A crisp dollar and a wrinkled dollar are worth the same amount, but I’m sure someone would rather eat fresh food than spoiled food. We see here that the tithe should be eaten, “And ye shall eat it in every place..”
Leviticus 27:30 “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.
• Notice here that the tithe was “of the land” or from the land: seed of the land or fruit of the tree.
Leviticus 27:32 “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.”
• This is another passage which shows animals being a designated tithe item. Also, notice that the animals were made to pass underneath a rod, and every tenth one that passed under it was holy unto the Lord and was to be given unto Him. This tells me that if a person had less than ten animals, there was no tenth one to walk under the rod to be holy unto the Lord.
Deuteronomy 12:17-18 “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: 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.”
• Again, here the tithe is food, and it is to be eaten by the tithe-giver, his family, his servants, and Levite that was within his gates.
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 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. 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: 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: 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, And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. 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: 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.”
• Again, the tithe was to be given of the increase of the seed that the field brings forth. We also see here that they had and used money back then, but that wasn’t given as the tithe. Tithe consisted of corn, wine, oil, and animals, and other edible items. Money came into play when the distance was too far and the tithe too great to take the whole distance. They were allowed to sell the items for money and use the money to buy whatever kind of food items they desired once they got to the place where God chose. And this Scripture also tells us that the tithe was to be shared with the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. The tithe clearly wasn’t restricted to the priests. And it looks like the tithe was given at the end of three years, not every week or month.
Deuteronomy 26:12-13 “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; 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.”
• Again we see that tithing was done in the third year, and we see who ate it.
Nehemiah 13:5 “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.”
• Again, here we see that the tithe was not only for the priests but was also given to the Levites (all priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests), the singers, the porters, and the priests. Also, again, tithe here is corn, wine, and oil.
Amos 4:4 “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years.”
• Again, it refers to tithing being done in the third year, not every week or month.
Leviticus 25:1-7 “And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee. And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.”
• God instructed the people not to sow, reap, nor gather during the seventh year because it was the Sabbath of the land. During this year, the food from the land was for the landowner, his servants, and whomever was staying with him. However, churches do not teach their members to refrain from tithing every seven years and keep all their money for themselves.
Amos 4:7-9 “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.”
•Notice how the conditions here look awfully similar to Malachi 3:8-11.
Malachi 3:8-11 “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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. 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, saith the LORD of hosts.”
• The tithe (again edibles, animals, things grown from the land) was to be brought to the storehouse, an actual storage facility for the tithe items. And I believe the curse that they were cursed with was similar to what we see in Amos 4:7-9 where God withheld rain and allowed pests to devour their trees. The curse would be lifted and God would bring forth rain (open up the “windows of heaven”-the same phrase used in the account of Noah’s Ark, referring to rainfall. Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:2) and he would rebuke the devourer, or pests that devoured and destroyed their crops and trees, as we see done in Amos, if they would resume tithing so that there would be food (not money) in the storehouse.
Summary of Old Testament Tithing
• The tithe that God commanded consisted of edibles and livestock, NEVER money.
• It was given of the children of Israel to the tribe of Levi to feed them because they had no land inheritance as did the rest of the children of Israel.
• The Levites were required to give a tithe of the tithe they received to the priests.
• Tithe-givers also were to share the food with the Levites, servants, widows, fatherless, and strangers within their gates.
• There are no scriptures that instruct a weekly or monthly tithe.
• The tithe was part of the Mosaic Law.
• Overall, tithing had very specific guidelines to be followed.
New Testament Giving
Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
• Tithing, as mentioned here by Jesus, is still not money, it’s herbs, something grown from the land. Jesus told them that, though they paid tithes, they had ignored the weightier matters of the law, which shows us that there are other duties more important for us to perform than tithing. If we’re still “cursed with a curse” today for not tithing, shouldn’t we be even more harshly cursed for failing to do the things that are more important than tithing? Also, notice that Jesus directed this to the scribes and Pharisees, never to His disciples or any people of the multitude which He taught. Those Pharisees and scribes were required to tithe because they owned land, and they were still under the Law. People who did not own land or livestock did not have to tithe because those were the only allowed tithe items and they didn’t possess any of that. We never see in scripture where Jesus paid tithes, and there’s no evidence that he had land or livestock, and He didn’t collect tithes because He was not a descendant of the tribe of Levi, He was a descendant of the tribe of Judah.
Hebrews 7:5 “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the 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.”
• The sons of Levi are to take tithes according to the law. Many times in the New Testament we are told that we are not under the law but under grace, and if anyone attempts to put themselves back under any part of the law to follow it in attempt to justify themselves or to “earn” their salvation or righteousness, that they’ll be guilty of the WHOLE law if they fail to follow it in its ENTIRETY, leaving even one thing undone. Attempting to put yourself back under the Law actually nullifies your salvation through Christ–dangerous territory!
Matthew 6:1-4, Luke 11:41, Luke 12:33, Acts 3:2-3, Acts 10:2, Acts 10:4, Acts 10:31, Acts 24:17
• These Scriptures above show that giving alms, or things given to the poor/needy out of compassion, is a perfectly acceptable form of giving. No amount is specified, making it obvious that it is not a tithe.
1Corinthians 16:1-2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
• This tells me that collections were taken up to help the saints, or fellow believers, who were lacking and in need. Therefore, since God has blessed you with something, if you know of fellow believers who are lacking in what you have an abundance of, you should give to them.
2Corinthians 8:12-15 “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.”
• What I get from this is that we should give, but not necessarily so much so that you’re taking care of the needs of others while you ignore your own needs. Giving, here, serves the purpose of creating equality amongst the believers; whatever you have an abundance of, you should give to someone who lacks in that same area, and whatever area you lack, someone living in abundance in that area should give unto you, thus making things equal. Someone who gains an abundance will have nothing left over beyond what he needs, and someone who has less than what they need will have all their needs met through the love and generosity of those who give away their surplus.
2Corinthians 9:7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
• We are to purpose in our hearts what and how to give, and we are supposed to give gladly, and not grudgingly or out of necessity (distress, constraint, feeling obligated to). Aren’t people giving “out of necessity” when they’re being told that they are “God-robbers” and “cursed with a curse” if they don’t tithe? And why would the Scripture tell us that every man should purpose in his heart to give if tithing is commanded and not optional? That’s not giving according to the purpose in your heart, that’s following an order. Yet again, no amount, increment, or percentage is specified. Also, what curse would we be cursed with for not tithing today? We own no fields or crops to be destroyed by lack of rain and by pests eating and destroying them. How is one cursed for not tithing? If we were to be under a curse for not doing so, wouldn’t the New Testament have warned us of it?
Galatians 3:10-13 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
• If Christ became a curse for us, redeeming us from the curse of the law, and if we are no longer under the law but under grace and living by faith and not the law, then how could any curse concerning the law, which included tithing, be effective for Christians?
1Corinthians 9:13 “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?”
• Yes, we are to give to the people who minister and teach the Word of God, but again, no set amount, increment, or percentage is implemented. Giving should be out of one’s love.
Summary of New Testament Giving
• Giving should be as a man purposes in his heart, out of love.
• There is no specified amount or percentage in relation to giving.
• Tithing (which, again, was always food, never money) was never commanded and there was no major focus on tribe distinction, especially since the Gentiles didn’t belong to any of the tribes of Israel.
• The New Testament saints are seen giving in order to make sure that all amongst them were equal, none suffering lack.
• The saints gave unto church leaders and unto each other.
Overall statements and questions
All in all, tithing is not once commanded in the New Testament. It was commanded to the children of Israel (the Jews) and the guidelines were laid out and specifications were given as to what the tithe was, where it was to be taken, to whom it was to be given, and what was supposed to be done with it. With the Gentiles having come to accept Christ, becoming children of God, wouldn’t there be specific instructions given to them concerning the tithe since they had no prior obligation or knowledge to tithe, not knowing that it was required in the first place? When we see that God wants us to do or not do something, shouldn’t we try to follow it exactly as He says it should be done? The tithe had specific requirements attached to it, but why do churches today pick and choose which principles about tithing apply to us today? Tithe was always food, never money, but why can’t someone today bring 10% of the food they have at home to church and call it their tithe? Tithe was to be given to the Levites, but no one knows who the Levites are today. If the pastors/preachers today are “symbolic” of the Levite priests, justifying their collection of tithes, then what Israelite tribes, symbolically speaking, are the rest of us supposed to be a part of that we’re giving tithes? If the tithe was given to the entire tribe of Levi, why are only the pastors of today taking up tithes? Who would be the regular non-priest Levites that should also be receiving tithes? Among the Levites were the singers who sang in the temple. They also partook of the tithe, so why aren’t tithes taken up and given to the choir members and musicians? And the purpose of the tithe was to provide for the Levites because they had no land inheritance. Assuming, for a second, that the original tithe of food has somehow been replaced by today’s tithing of money/income and that preachers are today’s Levite priests, then why do the preachers today who have outside sources of incomes like other jobs, companies or business that they own or are partners in, or have products they sell (books they’ve written, and other things) need to collect tithes? They have their own “inheritance” (means of earning money, since the actual biblical inheritance of land is no longer in effect) now and their stomachs are well-fed. And why aren’t tithes taken up to feed the needy members of the church? Recall that the tithe was eaten by the Levites, the priests, and also the widows, the fatherless/orphans, the strangers, etc. But today, no one but the pastor has the right to take up buckets full of tithes. Also, the tithe was meant to take care of the people (Levites, widows, fatherless) not the temple building. And probably most importantly, the Levite priests represented the people before God. They had to go to Him on behalf of the children of Israel. We don’t need priests today because Jesus is our High Priest and through Him we can go directly to God for ourselves.
My main gripe with “tithing” is that today’s “tithing” isn’t actually tithing at all when compared to the real, Biblical specifications of tithing. It’s simply giving 10% percent of the money you make, which churches tell you that you have to give. There is no such commandment under Christ to do that. We are instructed to give, but there is no command to tithe. We do need to give to our local church to support it and keep it running, butwe don’t need churches bullying people and telling them that they are robbing God and will be cursed for not tithing. We should want to give out of love to make sure that not only are the church’s needs met, but more importantly that God’s people who are the Church (capital “C”) have their needs met. Why don’t preachers put emphasis on giving for that reason? People give all their money to the church, but never give it the brother or sister in Christ sitting next to them on the pew or living next door to them who may not be able to eat or feed their children this week. Churches never seem to pressure the people into giving to that person like they pressure the people into giving to their ministry. I have never experienced a pastor collect “tithes” to make sure that everyone in the congregation can eat, or can pay their rent, or pay their light bill, etc. I have yet to see a pastor berate his congregation for some of them living in abundance while ignoring the needs of their brothers and sisters who are suffering lack. I haven’t seen them teach that equality of the saints as seen in 1Corinthians 8:12-15. But the church-goers get harshly chastised for not tithing to the church. People should never be made to feel forced, obligated, or threatened with a “curse” to give. When the feeling of threat or obligation is taken away, true believers who read the Word will fall in love with giving freely, and may even want to give more than the supposed “minimum requirement” of 10 percent. I believe that God will make sure that a church that puts its trusts in Him, and not in scaring their members into tithing, will receive adequate care by moving upon the hearts of His people to give according to the ministry’s needs.
I simply disagree with what is being done today. The “tithe” isn’t a tithe unless it follows the guidelines laid out in the Old Testament, and therefore it should not be referred to as a tithe. If people decide they want to offer up 10 percent of their income to the church, then they can offer that up. But it’s just that: an offering. Again, as followers of Christ, we need to give, but we shouldn’t be threatened by Old Testament laws that no longer apply to cause us to give out of fear of “robbing God” or being “cursed”. Nor should we be giving with the expectation of receiving something in return for giving, leading many people to treat God like an ATM or a slot machine. As followers of Christ it should be our desire to help our respective local churches, and also one another. We need to give out of love from our hearts, and in whatever manner the Holy Spirit may personally instruct us to give, but we should never be giving based on the demands and scare tactics of men.
I understand that this may be hard to digest for a lot of people, having been a stickler for tithing for years myself, but let the Word speak for itself. We should be following God’s Word, not the doctrines of men. This is why it is so vitally important for us to study the Word for ourselves and not just gobble up the messages given to us from pulpits. Scriptures and principles get twisted all the time…many pastors are honestly unaware of some of the false doctrines they teach because they may be just passing on what they’ve learned from others and have taken it as truth…others are KNOWINGLY teaching false doctrines and refuse to repent…and God is going to deal with them as He wills..and it won’t be pretty, I can guarantee that much..
This isn’t just strictly about tithing, we need to be educated in the Word about EVERYTHING…ask God to guide you through His Holy Spirit..learn about God from God..and only accept the teachings of men if their teachings can be validated by the Word…the Word is your filter…Nothing should be taken away from or added to God’s Word and the principles therein.
Thank Jesus Christ for your salvation and freedom!
To them that have ears…..