Editor's note: We are continually seeking the truth in God's word. All content has suggestive conclusions. We recommend that all readers of this website search the bible for themselves and pray for understanding to prove or disprove all content.
What is Tithing?
The world is full of magnificent religious structures such as temples, churches and synagogues. How are these structures paid for? Does the Bible teach a required system of funding for religious buildings, schools, ministers, priests, and related expenses?
Well, let's look into the word of God to find out...
The religious organizations of the world use some form of tithing (direct or indirect) to finance their activities. Tithing is translated as meaning: " a tenth " or ten percent. The term is mostly related to an increase in our wealth or wages. Many suggest that we give a tithe (10 %) of our income to support the religious group we may attend. The first place this word " tithe or tenth " appears in the bible is: (Genesis 14:20)
And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he (Abram) gave him (Melchizedek) a tithe of all. (New King James)
And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything. (New International Version)
Many use this verse to claim that tithing or giving a tenth of ones income was in effect before the nation of Israel was born! But is this really true? First of all, Abram didn't lose or gain anything in this situation. The story is about war between two group of kings. (Genesis 14:1-16) Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions were carried off. (he was living in one of the cities that was plundered, Sodom)
And when Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he gathered three hundred and eighteen of his personal home-born servants, and pursued them all the way to Dan. Then he and his servants caught up with them at night and attacked them, and they pursued them all the way to Choba, which is to the left of Damascus. Finally, he recovered all the horses of Sodom, his nephew Lot, all of his possessions, the women, and all the rest of the people. It seems that Abram's purpose was to rescue Lot and his possessions. And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Let me take all the men... you can keep the horses for yourself.' And Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I swear by God the Most High God who made the heavens and the earth, that I won't take anything from you - from a piece of string to a shoe lace - so you can't say, I made Abram rich. [I will take] nothing other that what the young men have eaten, and the share that belongs to the men that went with me... Eschol, Aunan, and MamRe... they will each take a portion.' (Genesis 14:21-24)
So, it seems that Abram didn't lose anything, nor gain anything in rescuing Lot! Why then did he give a tithe or tenth of the rescued possessions to Melchizedek? Well, maybe he didn't!
In the book of Numbers, we can read of the instructions God gave Moses on how to deal with the plunders of war.
(at least the one mentioned in Numbers 31)
Then God spoke to Moses and said, ‘I want you and EliEzer the Priest to take an inventory of the captured people and animals, then divide them among the soldiers who went out to battle, and with the rest of gathering. And as a tribute to God from the warriors that went out to battle, take one out of every five hundred of the people, oxen, sheep, and burros, and give them to EliEzer the Priest as the first fruits of God. Then from among those things that are given to the children of Israel, you should take one out of fifty of the people, oxen, sheep, and burros, and give them to the Levities who teach at the Tent of God. 'So, Moses and EliEzer (the Priest) did as God commanded Moses. (Numbers 31:25-31)
Here, God explains what He expected as a tribute (heave offering or tax) from the spoils of war. So, was Abram required to give a tithe or tenth of the plunder of war to Melchizedek? Probably not, Abram more likely gave a tribute to God, as thanks to the Great God for keeping him safe and allowing Lot and his possessions to be rescued. (there's a good chance that the latter part of Genesis 14:20 is spurious)
The term tithe probably doesn't mean a tenth (even though that's what many think) Over the millenniums, these two terms have become interchangeable, but they shouldn't be. A tithe (tax) would fit into the same category as a tribute or vow. The difference would be the amount required or offered. This can be illustrated by the patriarch Jacob (Israel):
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God is with me and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food to eat and clothing to wear, and I return safely to my father's home, then the Lord will become my God. Then this stone that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely give you back a tenth of everything you give me." (Genesis 28:20-22--NET)
Jacob is suggesting to make a covenant (or agreement/vow) with God. It is Jacob who offers the amount (tenth) he will give for the blessings of God! This situation is not the same as Abram's (Abram didn't gain any wealth, even though it was offered to him) Jacob is requesting blessings for his offerings. We need to ask the questions: Who did Jacob plan on giving this tenth to? God surely didn't need it! Was Melchizedek in contact with Jacob? Did he give it to the poor? Did he offer the tenth as regular sacrifices? The questions could continue, but the answer just isn't recorded.
(at least not in Genesis)
Editor's note: The books of I&II Kings records the many sins of the kings (national) of Israel and Jeremiah 8:8-10 states that most of the prophets, priests and scribes were recording/preaching false information. So, it is conceivable, that these leaders were trying to extract as much as possible from the people and using the word of God in a way that must have been displeasing to The Almighty!
In the book of Levitious Chapter 27, God instructs Moses to tell the nation of Israel about the required tithe (tribute/tax): "Any tithe of the land, from the grain of the land or from the fruit of the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. If a man redeems part of his tithe, however, he must add one fifth to it. All the tithe of herd or flock, everything which passes under the rod, the tenth one will be holy to the Lord.The owner must not examine the animals to distinguish between good and bad, and he must not exchange it. If, however, he does exchange it, both the original animal and its substitute will be holy. It must not be redeemed." These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses to tell the Israelites at Mount Sinai. (Leviticus 27:30-34--NET)
It is interesting to note that the tithe of the flocks was not to be 10%, but the tenth one that passed under the rod. So, if you only had nine (or less) animals, you would not be required to tithe (pay a tribute/tax) on these animals. God also stated that the tithes belonged to Him and they were Holy to God. We should ask: Was the covenant (vow/agreement) that Jacob made with God binding on his descendants and agreed to by God? It seems so, but we must conclude that Jacob wasn't offering 10%, but the tenth animal to pass under the rod, (Jacob was a shepherd) This is exactly what God required from his (Jacob's) descendants.
We seem to have established that the tithe (tribute/tax) is God's, so what did The Almighty want done with this tithe?
You must be certain to tithe all the produce of your seed that comes from the field year after year. In the presence of the Lord your God you must eat from the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the place he chooses to locate his name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.When he blesses you, if the place where he chooses to locate his name is distant, you may convert the tithe into money, secure the money, and travel to the place the Lord your God chooses for himself. Then you may spend the money however you wish for cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever you desire. You and your household may eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and enjoy it. As for the Levities in your villages, you must not ignore them, for they have no allotment or inheritance along with you. At the end of every three years you must bring all the tithe of your produce, in that very year, and you must store it up in your villages. Then the Levities (because they have no allotment or inheritance with you), the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows of your villages may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work you do. (Deuteronomy 14:22-29--NET)
So, it seems that the tithe was to be used for learning to revere God (in a place that God established). Those who have tried to explain away these verses and conclude that the tithe was to be given to the priests and Levities, suggest that there were multiple tithes:
First Tithe: given to the Levities and priests for their support
Second Tithe: to be used to revere God in a place He chooses
Third Tithe (given every third year): to be given to the fatherless, widows and Levities
Fortunately, this just doesn't seem logical. The point of view we take is this: The required tithe was to be used for traveling expenses, rejoicing before God, learning to revere God and making sure the less fortunate and Levities were able to attend the three annual festivals of God: spring, summer and fall. Then, the tithe of the third year would be stored in their villages to be distributed to the Levities, the fatherless, the widow and the poor among them. The Israelites needed to use (2) years tithes for three years of travel/rejoicing for themselves. So, wasteful spending during the first two years was not wise! If this happened they would need to use personal income to obey God in the third year. There could be an occassion where there just wasn't enough income. Then they themselves would fall into the category of needing help. Those with excess tithes would then help. The rules of God covered all situations....
When you finish tithing all your income in the third year (the year of tithing), you must give it to the Levities, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows so that they may eat to their satisfaction in your villages. Then you shall say before the Lord your God, "I have removed the sacred offering from my house and given it to the Levities, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows just as you have commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten your commandments. I have not eaten anything when I was in mourning, or removed any of it while ceremonially unclean, or offered any of it to the dead; I have obeyed you and have done everything you have commanded me. (Deuteronomy 26:12-13--NET)
There are many who will say that these statements are extremely radical (for obvious reasons), but if we apply the principles in Deuteronomy 14, 26, Amos 4:4 and Jeremiah 8:8-10, we can reconcile all other verses that talk about tithes...
So, in simple terms, Are we required to tithe on our income (gain)? Yes, but not in the way most religious leader would want us to believe! We should use this money to learn to revere The Almighty, rejoice for the blessings He has given us, help the needy, the fatherless and the widow (who can't help themselves). This seems to be the proper way God intended us to use tithes, What about the Levities? Well, there is no temple for them to serve in, so they would be expected to find work (in different areas) for their own support. The death and resurrection of Jesus the Anointed One ended the need for a physical temple, the sacrifices and the Levitical priesthood.
What about the religious buildings, schools, ministers, priests and related expenses? The bible warns us of false teachers (religious groups). They come to us in sheep's clothing, but are really wolves. We need to be careful! But, we also must be realistic. If we want religious building and schools, ministers and the required expenses to support these things we will need to pay for them. But not with tithes...
Editor's note: We will need to be alert and stay in constant contact with God and His Son, so we can avoid the pitfalls of false teachings, We need to pray for wisdom, guidance, patience, humility and God's intervention.
There could be a case made for using the third year tithe and offerings to support the true ministers of God. We will need to be completely convinced that they truly are teaching the truth of God or we could be misusing God's tithes and offerings (we can do whatever we want with our money, but with God's, that's a different story)
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the confirming sign of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who examine me. Do we not have the right to financial support? Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? Who ever serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not consume its milk? Am I saying these things only on the basis of common sense, or does the law not say this as well? For it is written in the law of Moses, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." God is not concerned here about oxen, is he? Or is he not surely speaking for our benefit? It was written for us, because the one plowing and threshing ought to work in hope of enjoying the harvest. If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you? If others receive this right from you, are we not more deserving? But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Don't you know that those who serve in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:1-14--NET)
This support is not intended to make men (or women) rich. It is intended to supply their basic needs (not wants). Travel (for religious purposes), housing, food and clothing could be the major items that fit into the subject Paul is talking about. This type of support should be modest. When a man of God is dependent on the people (or superiors) he is responsible for, then these same people could dictate to the man of God what they want to hear! Men of God should preach what the Almighty dictates, not man. They should not fear losing their income for telling the truth of God's word.
Editor's note: The religious organizations of today (most) claim that the rules God gave to ancient Israel were for them and only them. This just isn't true... God wanted His chosen nation to be an example to all other nations. The system of order that God put in place was for everyone, so that all nations would be blessed for obeying God.....
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