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Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures: It’s Not What You Think [Part 17]

THE TRANSITION (New Testament, Pre-Resurrection of Christ, Under Law)

What did Jesus say about tithing?

The Pharisees’ Motives (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:37-54)

23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

37And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. 42But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 43Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.” 45Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.” 46And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. 52Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” 53And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.

The Pharisees got mad when Jesus challenged them about why they were doing what they were doing.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures: It’s Not What You Think [Part 16]

Summary of Additions to the Law of Moses

1. In all of the previous references, tithing is always mentioned as a part of the whole; tithing is still a requirement to fulfill the Law of Moses.

2. Emphasis on caring for those in ministry, the poor and widow, and the foreigner are a constant thread throughout scriptures.

3. As the time draws near to the coming of the Messiah, the scriptures reflect God’s concluding letting the Law define His relationship with His people. As long as the Law is in effect, He can only have a surface relationship with them. He refers again and again to giving His people a new heart, with His commandments written on their hearts, so it’s not doing rightly because they have to, but because it is now in their heart to do it. It is natural, because He changes their nature.

The previous entries are a good place to start in judging what is being taught in many churches as the law of the tithe. As we see where additions and clarifications were made as time passed, we will continue to see God’s intent for instituting the law in general and the tithe in particular, and hopefully bring clarity to its place in Christian life today.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures: It’s Not What You Think [Part 15]

Malachi and the Lord’s List of Charges Against Israel (Malachi)

1:1The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2″I have loved you,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.”

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Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures: It’s Not What You Think [Part 14]

Amos and Tithing to Idols (Amos 3:12-4:7)

    3:12Thus says the Lord: “As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion Two legs or a piece of an ear, So shall the children of Israel be taken out Who dwell in Samaria—In the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch! 13Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,” Says the Lord God, the God of hosts, 14″That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; And the horns of the altar shall be cut off And fall to the ground. 15I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; The houses of ivory shall perish, And the great houses shall have an end,” says the Lord.

    4:1Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!” 2The Lord God has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks. 3You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,” Says the Lord.

    4″Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. 5Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!” Says the Lord God.

    6″Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the Lord. 7″I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.”

The prophet Amos, speaking for God, lists tithing and sacrifice to idols (at Bethel and Gilgal) as one of their crimes against Him. Clearly, it was not just tithing that was important.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures: It’s Not What You Think [Part 13]

Nehemiah and Enforcement of the Law (Nehemiah 12:44-13:14)

44And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. 45Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son. 46For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.

13:1On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, 2because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.

4Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. 5And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. 6But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, 7and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. 8And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

10I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. 11So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. 13And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

14Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

Nehemiah relates some political intrigue regarding the leadership, both political and religious, which contributed to the apostasy of the nation. He gathers together the (genealogically) appointed leaders and puts them back to the work they are supposed to be doing, as well as gathering the Levites, calling them to return from working in the fields instead of ministering to the Lord. He also records how he clears out the storeroom for the tithe, restores it to the Levites, asks the Lord to remember him for his good deeds, and condemns Israel for having failed to keep God’s commandments (immediately following this section Nehemiah gets on their case for working on the Sabbath, so he is definitely not picking out one area of the law to emphasize.)

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures [Part 12]

Nehemiah and Restoration of the Law (Nehemiah 10:28-39)

28Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes: 30We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt.

32Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God. 34We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God as it is written in the Law. 35And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord; 36to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; 37to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. 38And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse. 39For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

As Nehemiah and the restored Israelites re-establish their nation, one of the first things they do is re-iterate the tenets of the regulations acknowledging the Lord as their God. This includes the restoration of the tithe (they were not tithing or keeping any of the commandments of the Lord in captivity, previous to entering the land). Again, tithes to the priests was specifically mentioned, as well as the tithes being stored in the temple. Nehemiah even added ordinances concerning payment for specific needs of the temple. (These things may have been more expensive than they were in Moses’ day.)

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures [Part 11]

Hezekiah and the Restoration (2 Chronicles 30:23-31:21)

23Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness. 24For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, and the leaders gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. 25The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 26So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.

31:1Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars—from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh—until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession.

2And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to serve, to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camp of the Lord. 3The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord. 4Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.

5As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.

7In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month. 8And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. 9Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance.”

11Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them. 12Then they faithfully brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things; Cononiah the Levite had charge of them, and Shimei his brother was the next. 13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. 14Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the East Gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to distribute the offerings of the Lord and the most holy things. 15And under him were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, his faithful assistants in the cities of the priests, to distribute allotments to their brethren by divisions, to the great as well as the small. 16Besides those males from three years old and up who were written in the genealogy, they distributed to everyone who entered the house of the Lord his daily portion for the work of his service, by his division, 17and to the priests who were written in the genealogy according to their father’s house, and to the Levites from twenty years old and up according to their work, by their divisions, 18and to all who were written in the genealogy—their little ones and their wives, their sons and daughters, the whole company of them—for in their faithfulness they sanctified themselves in holiness. 19Also for the sons of Aaron the priests, who were in the fields of the common-lands of their cities, in every single city, there were men who were designated by name to distribute portions to all the males among the priests and to all who were listed by genealogies among the Levites.

20Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. 21And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.

The people were encouraged to keep the feast going; the King made a large donation (of goods he had received as taxes from the people, as previously warned by God), and the priests and Levites made an even larger donation. The people rejoiced, partied, then broke down the idols (they had been worshiping or at least allowing others to worship), then went home. The priestly duties, which had ceased, were restored.

The people were commanded to obey the law of the tithe (“as written in the Law of the Lord”) in order to support the priesthood; their response was so great that it took 4 months for it to be brought (from all over the nation). The needs of the priests were more than met; storerooms in the House of the Lord were prepared to store the remainder, with overseers appointed to disperse the goods as necessary. All these had been neglected, bringing God’s judgment upon Israel until they realized the error of their ways.

The Law of Moses is summarized in verses 20-21. Because Hezekiah did what was right, God prospered him.

This was the best they could hope for; a surface relationship with a God who provided for their physical needs, peace, etc. as long as they did what He told them to do. The Israelites had to fulfill their part BEFORE God would fulfill His part.

This was the essence of the Law, which was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, in that He fulfilled “our part” permanently and in its entirety, so that God is now free to pour out His salvation, giving us a NEW heart that is able to be His dwelling place, where we can commune with Him personally and continually, having been born after His Spirit.

God never intended the Law to be the defining of His relationship with His people; its purpose was to reveal that there was nothing we could do to BRING OURSELVES into relationship with Him. It was something ONLY HE, AND HE ALONE, COULD DO.

With the Resurrection, Jesus concluded both parts of the covenant: He did our part and the Father’s, once and for all, permanently.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures [Part 10]

ADDITIONS TO THE LAW OF MOSES

There are several references outside of the written Law (Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) which include additions or clarifications to that which was already established. These all do, however, refer back specifically to the written Law.

A King Over Israel (1 Samuel 8:6-22)

6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. 22So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”

This passage describes how, by rejecting God as their sovereign leader, the Israelites would be required to pay additional costs; monetary, their sons and daughters, animals, servants and land would all be required by their king. And they would serve the king, instead of God. And they would cry out to God to deliver them from their leader, and God would not hear them.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures [Part 9]

Summary of the Tithe as Legislated in the Law of Moses

This is the sum of the institution of the tithe, as part of the commandment given by God through Moses to the Israelites:

1. One-tenth (a tithe) of the produce of the land, fruit, grain and livestock, belonged to God, and was to be given to and used by His priests, the Levites. This tithe was dedicated to the Lord.

2. The Levites were in turn to give one-tenth (a tithe) of the tithe they received to the High Priest (Aaron, his descendants and their households).

3. In what is probably a second yearly tithe, a second-tenth was to be taken up and used specifically for festivals and feasts. This was consumed by the tithers and the Levites before God.

4. A tri-annual tithe, or a third tenth (of the produce only) was to be put into storage facilities to take care of the Levites and those in need in the local vicinity. This was not dedicated to the Lord, and was to be dispersed with generosity.

5. Using the above summaries, 20% a year would be given off the top, with an additional 10% every third year, to support the religious, governmental and social structure of the day.

6. Some attribute the inconsistency in the accounts of these tithes to the two time periods in which they were written; When the tithes were to be given exclusively to the Levites, the Israelites were still wandering around in the desert. After they entered the Promised Land, they became much more home-bodies, multiplied, and needed other ways to not only take care of the Levites, but ensure religious and social cohesion (through festivals) and social care-taking (through legislated welfare programs).

7. There were no specific penalties or consequences for not tithing; the penalty of withdrawal of the Lord’s blessing and His casting away Israel from being His people was if they did not keep THE WHOLE LAW! (Not, if you don’t tithe, God won’t provide. If you don’t wash your food the way they were commanded, they’d get sick. It was a package deal—all or nothing). No single aspect was singled out as more important to God than others.

8. The commandment of the tithe was in effect as long as The Law was in effect [from the codification of the Law (Moses) to the fulfillment of the Law (Jesus’ Resurrection)]. We can conclude that God, through Moses, DID indeed command the Israelites to tithe! And He gave specific parameters, as to who, where, when, how and the consequences of both obedience and disobedience to this commandment.

9. “To tithe” is to fulfill the covenantal requirements as specified by God through the scriptures, laid out specifically in the Mosaic law in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Tithing, Giving and the Scriptures [Part 8]

The Tri-Annual Tithe and Declaration of Fulfillment of the Law (Deuteronomy 26:12-15)

12″When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, 13then you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘”‘

Every third year was instituted as “the year of tithing.” After they have fulfilled their responsibilities toward the Levites and the needy, the Israelites are also instructed to pledge before the Lord that they have fulfilled the requirements of His commandments, followed by their petition for blessing and the fulfillment of His promise. We clearly see the Lord’s emphasis on both hospitality and charity. Notice also that in both this case and the previous, the needy were to “eat within your gates and be filled.” This was not meant to be a petty portion, but to fully satisfy those that came for help.