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Thread: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

  1. #1
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    Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    I’m going to get right to the point. Tithing as we know it today, in the modern church, is not biblical. Giving, out of the goodness of your heart, is of course biblical, but this is not the same thing as tithing the way the churches expect you to tithe, nor the way the Israelites tithed before Jesus came.

    Most churches teach that we should give 10% of our income to the church because the Israelites were commanded to do the same in the Old Testament. Not only is that 10% number incorrect, but even if it were correct, we are not under the law. And if we put ourselves under the law, by trying to obey even one command, then we are refusing the sacrifice of Christ who took on the curse of the law so that we can be free of it. As Christians we live by grace and love, not by law.

    Some might say, we are not under the law, but the principle still applies. This is not about principles. This is about what we are actually commanded to do. We are commanded to love, and that love can be expressed by giving of course, but we are not commanded to give specifically 10% of our income to the church. So if you want to adhere to the principle and you think that giving 10% of your income to the church does that for you, then as misguided as that may be, feel free to continue to do so but know that you're putting that onus on yourself. You do not have to give 10% of your income to the church.

    Tithing in the Bible

    There are three kinds of tithing in the bible.

    1. The tithe to the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32)
    2. The festival tithe (Deuteronomy 12:5-19)
    3. Tithes to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-30)

    The Tithe to the Levites

    When the Israelites entered the promised land, 11 of the 12 tribes received a piece of land as their inheritance. The 12th tribe, the Levites, who had the task of serving as priests for Israel, did not receive any land. This is why 10% of the produce of the land was to be given to the tribe of Levites, since they did not have their own. If a man wanted to give a monetary tithe instead, it had to be 12% not 10% (Leviticus 27:31). Furthermore, the tenth of each herd or flock was also to be given as a tithe.

    Also of note is that God commanded this tithe to be given to the Levites as a reward for the work they did in the tabernacle and for bearing the sins of the people (a job which Jesus assumed on the cross) (Numbers 18:21-23).

    The Festival Tithe

    God ordered feasts for the Israelites where they were to gather together in Jerusalem three times per year (For the feast of tabernacles, passover and the feast of weeks) and bring a tenth of their grain, their new wine, oil and the firstborn of the herds and flocks and rejoice before the Lord in celebration.

    If people were unable to make the journey or unable to carry their goods to the feast, they were permitted to sell their goods and use the money to buy for themselves whatever they desired to celebrate before the Lord. As part of this command they were also reminded to include the Levites in the celebration and allow them to partake in the tithe, because they did not have their own land to produce food with which to celebrate.

    So this is another 10% of the produce of the land, on top of the original 10% which was to be given to the Levites.

    Tithe to the Poor

    The third tithe was collected once every three years (and since tithe means 10% this amounted to 3.3% per year) and this was set aside for “the strangers, the fatherless, widows, and Levites living within the gates of the Israelites” so that they may eat and be satisfied. This tithe also came with a blessing from the Lord as a reward for giving the tithe.

    Summary

    Altogether, the tithes amounted to 23.3% of the goods produced from the land. 10% for the Levites, 10% for the three annual feasts, and 3.3% for the poor to celebrate once every three years.

    There are a few important points to note here.

    1. All three tithes were intended to be produce from the land and herds only, not monetary.
    2. The tithes were not given to God, but to people, for reward, celebration and charity.
    3. Most importantly, these commands were part of the law, which we are not under.

    Translating the Law to Modern Day


    If you want to try to obey the law, and substitute today’s pastors for Israelite Levites, then you need a farm. (Of course pastors are not Levites, nor do they compare as not all Levites were priests first of all, and the reason God commanded the tithe be given to them was because they had no land to grow their own food, while every other tribe was given land, and your pastor may actually own some land. But if you insist that your pastor is a "Levite" then continue reading.) Then bring 10% of everything you grow on your farm to church on Sunday and put it in the offering plate. If you can’t carry the fruits and veggies to church (or the offering plate can't hold your watermelon or your goat) then you are permitted to sell it all and then give 12% (not 10%) of your produce. If you don't have a farm but earn your living in a cubicle somewhere then the tithe does not apply to you.

    Obviously, I am not suggesting you do this. I am making the point that tithing to your church is very different from what the Israelites did in the Old Testament and you can't translate it to modern day unless you just want to make up your own rules, which is essentially what churches have done.

    Tithes Were Never for God

    Secondly, tithes were never given to God, so the old argument that “you are stealing from God” if you do not give a tithe to the church is a lie, and if your pastor is still using that line, you need to call him on it. God has his own inheritance, which is his people. He does not need a tithe from our land or our wallets.

    We Are Not Under the Law

    The third point is by far the most important point here. Jesus fulfilled the law, which means we no longer live by it. Jesus is our priest now, not the Levites. He bore our sins on the cross, so we no longer need Levites to do it for us (and no, pastors are not our modern day Levites). We are all priests in Christ Jesus.
    Paul warns that if we choose to live by even one letter of the law, then we are putting ourselves under the entire law and in doing so would be rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus. In Galatians he uses circumcision as the example, but we can assume that this applies to any part of the law.

    Galatians 3:10, 5:3
    For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."… I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses.

    We are not living under the law. The law lives in and comes forth from our hearts. This is the new covenant. Jesus said the greatest command is to love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself. From these flow all the other laws. In other words, we give to the poor and celebrate before the Lord not because we are commanded to, but because we want to because of the love that is in us.

    Jesus took away the curse from us. Don’t take it back by trying to obey the law in tithing.

    Give Out of Love

    Instead, give out of the love that flows from your heart. Give to the church if you want to, but do so out of love for God and for God’s people, not because you believe you are commanded to give a tenth of all you earn.

    Matthew 22:37-40
    37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

    Just to be clear; I am not saying you should not give money to your church. I’m just saying, if you choose to do so, do it for the right reasons and do not be fooled into thinking that we are under any command to do so. Personally I would rather give to a charity which I know does not spend 80% of its revenue on mortgages, utilities, sound equipment and janitorial services, but maybe that’s just me.
    Last edited by LastSeven; Mar 20th 2017 at 03:35 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Tithing IS biblical in the sense of 'it's in the Bible,' but I concur with you that it is an OT form of taxation and has nothing to do with the NT church.

  3. #3

    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by LastSeven View Post
    I’m going to get right to the point. Tithing as we know it today, in the modern church, is not biblical. Giving, out of the goodness of your heart, is of course biblical, but this is not the same thing as tithing the way the churches expect you to tithe, nor the way the Israelites tithed before Jesus came.

    Most churches teach that we should give 10% of our income to the church because the Israelites were commanded to do the same in the Old Testament. Not only is that 10% number incorrect, but even if it were correct, we are not under the law. And if we put ourselves under the law, by trying to obey even one command, then we are refusing the sacrifice of Christ who took on the curse of the law so that we can be free of it. As Christians we live by grace and love, not by law.

    Some might say, we are not under the law, but the principle still applies. This is not about principles. This is about what we are actually commanded to do. We are commanded to love, and that love can be expressed by giving of course, but we are not commanded to give specifically 10% of our income to the church. So if you want to adhere to the principle and you think that giving 10% of your income to the church does that for you, then as misguided as that may be, feel free to continue to do so but know that you're putting that onus on yourself. You do not have to give 10% of your income to the church.

    Tithing in the Bible

    There are three kinds of tithing in the bible.

    1. The tithe to the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32)
    2. The festival tithe (Deuteronomy 12:5-19)
    3. Tithes to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-30)

    The Tithe to the Levites

    When the Israelites entered the promised land, 11 of the 12 tribes received a piece of land as their inheritance. The 12th tribe, the Levites, who had the task of serving as priests for Israel, did not receive any land. This is why 10% of the produce of the land was to be given to the tribe of Levites, since they did not have their own. If a man wanted to give a monetary tithe instead, it had to be 12% not 10% (Leviticus 27:31). Furthermore, the tenth of each herd or flock was also to be given as a tithe.
    Also of note is that God commanded this tithe to be given to the Levites as a reward for the work they did in the tabernacle and for bearing the sins of the people (a job which Jesus assumed on the cross) (Numbers 18:21-23).

    The Festival Tithe

    God ordered feasts for the Israelites where they were to gather together in Jerusalem three times per year (For the feast of tabernacles, passover and the feast of weeks) and bring a tenth of their grain, their new wine, oil and the firstborn of the herds and flocks and rejoice before the Lord in celebration.

    If people were unable to make the journey or unable to carry their goods to the feast, they were permitted to sell their goods and use the money to buy for themselves whatever they desired to celebrate before the Lord. As part of this command they were also reminded to include the Levites in the celebration and allow them to partake in the tithe, because they did not have their own land to produce food with which to celebrate.

    So this is another 10% of the produce of the land, on top of the original 10% which was to be given to the Levites.

    Tithe to the Poor

    The third tithe was collected once every three years (and since tithe means 10% this amounted to 3.3% per year) and this was set aside for “the strangers, the fatherless, widows, and Levites living within the gates of the Israelites” so that they may eat and be satisfied. This tithe also came with a blessing from the Lord as a reward for giving the tithe.

    Summary

    Altogether, the tithes amounted to 23.3% of the goods produced from the land. 10% for the Levites, 10% for the three annual feasts, and 3.3% for the poor to celebrate once every three years.

    There are a few important points to note here.

    1. All three tithes were intended to be produce from the land and herds only, not monetary.
    2. The tithes were not given to God, but to people, for reward, celebration and charity.
    3. Most importantly, these commands were part of the law, which we are not under.

    Translating the Law to Modern Day


    If you want to try to obey the law, and substitute today’s pastors for Israelite Levites, then you need a farm. (Of course pastors are not Levites, nor do they compare as not all Levites were priests first of all, and the reason God commanded the tithe be given to them was because they had no land to grow their own food, while every other tribe was given land, and your pastor may actually own some land. But if you insist that your pastor is a "Levite" then continue reading.) Then bring 10% of everything you grow on your farm to church on Sunday and put it in the offering plate. If you can’t carry the fruits and veggies to church (or the offering plate can't hold your watermelon or your goat) then you are permitted to sell it all and then give 12% (not 10%) of your produce. If you don't have a farm but earn your living in a cubicle somewhere then the tithe does not apply to you.

    Obviously, I am not suggesting you do this. I am making the point that tithing to your church is very different from what the Israelites did in the Old Testament and you can't translate it to modern day unless you just want to make up your own rules, which is essentially what churches have done.

    Tithes Were Never for God

    Secondly, tithes were never given to God, so the old argument that “you are stealing from God” if you do not give a tithe to the church is a lie, and if your pastor is still using that line, you need to call him on it. God has his own inheritance, which is his people. He does not need a tithe from our land or our wallets.

    We Are Not Under the Law

    The third point is by far the most important point here. Jesus fulfilled the law, which means we no longer live by it. Jesus is our priest now, not the Levites. He bore our sins on the cross, so we no longer need Levites to do it for us (and no, pastors are not our modern day Levites). We are all priests in Christ Jesus.
    Paul warns that if we choose to live by even one letter of the law, then we are putting ourselves under the entire law and in doing so would be rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus. In Galatians he uses circumcision as the example, but we can assume that this applies to any part of the law.

    Galatians 3:10, 5:3
    For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."… I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses.

    We are not living under the law. The law lives in and comes forth from our hearts. This is the new covenant. Jesus said the greatest command is to love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself. From these flow all the other laws. In other words, we give to the poor and celebrate before the Lord not because we are commanded to, but because we want to because of the love that is in us.

    Jesus took away the curse from us. Don’t take it back by trying to obey the law in tithing.

    Give Out of Love

    Instead, give out of the love that flows from your heart. Give to the church if you want to, but do so out of love for God and for God’s people, not because you believe you are commanded to give a tenth of all you earn.

    Matthew 22:37-40
    37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

    Just to be clear; I am not saying you should not give money to your church. I’m just saying, if you choose to do so, do it for the right reasons and do not be fooled into thinking that we are under any command to do so. Personally I would rather give to a charity which I know does not spend 80% of its revenue on mortgages, utilities, sound equipment and janitorial services, but maybe that’s just me.
    I mostly agree with you. Tithing is Biblical, but it is definitely not new covenant required.

  4. #4
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Ya, I meant what most Christians today call "tithing", that is giving 10% of their income to the church, is not Biblical.

  5. #5
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Its interesting to me that money was not tithed but only plants or animals. These are things that only God can grow. We don't even fully understand how but we do take advantage of the process.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  6. #6
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    LastSeven,

    Can you show us where you got the actual numbers that add up to 23.3%? Tithe means tenth, so how can we get anything other than 10% for each tithe?

    Looks interesting and I would like to look into a little more.

    Thanks

    Mark
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  7. #7

    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    LastSeven,

    Can you show us where you got the actual numbers that add up to 23.3%? Tithe means tenth, so how can we get anything other than 10% for each tithe?

    Looks interesting and I would like to look into a little more.

    Thanks

    Mark
    I have seen it broken down by several different scholars. Most come up with numbers over 30 percent. There was the tithe which was 10%. In addition to that, the ones that come to mind are first fruits, first born, various temple taxes, various feast taxes.

  8. #8

    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Giving 100% is New Covenant.

    Being a steward is New Covenant.

  9. #9
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Reynolds357 View Post
    I have seen it broken down by several different scholars. Most come up with numbers over 30 percent. There was the tithe which was 10%. In addition to that, the ones that come to mind are first fruits, first born, various temple taxes, various feast taxes.
    But that would be more than the "tithing"command. For instance, no one was told to tithe on what they earned through barter, or labor. It seems to me they were to tithe what they grew (plants) or raised (livestock). I could be mistaken but that is how it seemed to me.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  10. #10
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    LastSeven,

    Can you show us where you got the actual numbers that add up to 23.3%? Tithe means tenth, so how can we get anything other than 10% for each tithe?

    Looks interesting and I would like to look into a little more.

    Thanks

    Mark
    Hi Mark. It comes from adding up the three tithes. The tithe to the Levites was 10% each year + the festival tithe was 10% each year + the tithe to the poor was 10% each three years. So since this last tithe is only once every three years it amounts to 3.3% per year. So that's 10% + 10% + 3.3% = 23.3%.

  11. #11
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    But that would be more than the "tithing"command. For instance, no one was told to tithe on what they earned through barter, or labor. It seems to me they were to tithe what they grew (plants) or raised (livestock). I could be mistaken but that is how it seemed to me.
    You're right. And that also reveals the purpose for the tithes. The first tithe to the Levites was specifically because the Levites did not inherit any land of their own to grow food and raise livestock, so they got a portion from the others. The second tithe, which is the festival tithe, was basically a big party which required again produce from the land, food and wine. The third tithe, for the poor, was also produce from the land so that the poor could survive. It was all about produce from the land.

    And so we can see that the purpose for the tithes were:

    1. To share with those who didn't inherit land of their own
    2. To celebrate
    3. To care for the needy

    None of the tithes were to build buildings (churches), pay for full time ministers, or even support the ministry in any way. They were for sharing, caring and celebrating.

  12. #12
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by LastSeven View Post
    Hi Mark. It comes from adding up the three tithes. The tithe to the Levites was 10% each year + the festival tithe was 10% each year + the tithe to the poor was 10% each three years. So since this last tithe is only once every three years it amounts to 3.3% per year. So that's 10% + 10% + 3.3% = 23.3%.
    Ah yes. I checked the scripture link you provided. Thank you! But your assumption is that 3rd year would yield the same as the each of the other 2 years. It is a reasonable assumption. But it would not surprise me if Israel saw an increase yield in that 3rd year as they did in the year before the Jubilee and Sabbath years.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  13. #13
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by LastSeven View Post
    You're right. And that also reveals the purpose for the tithes. The first tithe to the Levites was specifically because the Levites did not inherit any land of their own to grow food and raise livestock, so they got a portion from the others. The second tithe, which is the festival tithe, was basically a big party which required again produce from the land, food and wine. The third tithe, for the poor, was also produce from the land so that the poor could survive. It was all about produce from the land.

    And so we can see that the purpose for the tithes were:

    1. To share with those who didn't inherit land of their own
    2. To celebrate
    3. To care for the needy

    None of the tithes were to build buildings (churches), pay for full time ministers, or even support the ministry in any way. They were for sharing, caring and celebrating.
    And since the Levites only inheritance was the tithe they received, it is understandable why God would accuse people of robbing Him for not tithing (i.e. Rob him by not keeping His command to tithe, and thus breaking a promise to a portion of Israel concerning their inheritance).
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  14. #14

    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    And since the Levites only inheritance was the tithe they received, it is understandable why God would accuse people of robbing Him for not tithing (i.e. Rob him by not keeping His command to tithe, and thus breaking a promise to a portion of Israel concerning their inheritance).
    I could be mistaken here, but I do believe that the scripture you're referencing, Malachi chapter 2 & 3, was actually directed towards the priests. At least that's the way I understand it.

    And also to LastSeven's point, it specifically mentions food regarding what the tithe is.

  15. #15
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    Re: Tithing. Is it Biblical?

    Quote Originally Posted by jesusinmylife View Post
    I could be mistaken here, but I do believe that the scripture you're referencing, Malachi chapter 2 & 3, was actually directed towards the priests. At least that's the way I understand it.
    You could be right. I can see it both ways (i.e. any man or a priest). I'll look at it some more. Thanks for this note.

    And also to LastSeven's point, it specifically mentions food regarding what the tithe is.
    Right... whatever is grown (plants) or raised (animals).
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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