Robbing God II

offering

 

Malachi 3:8 – 10  –

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.[j1]

 

This passage is directed to ancient Israel when they were under the Mosaic Law. Gods people were holding back on the tithes and offerings, similar to holding back taxes. So they were stealing from God who instituted the tithing system. In verse 5 God says he will judge those who oppress the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger. These were the rightful recipients of the  tithe. In this passage God opposes the oppression of the poor.

 

Tithing was essentially Israel’s income tax and never do you find first century Christians tithing in the new testament.

God instituted three kinds of tithe i.e

  • A tithe of the produce of the land to support the Levites who had no inheritance in the land (Leviticus 27:30 – 33)
  • A tithe of the produce of the land to sponsor religious festivals in Jerusalem. If the produce was too burdensome for a family to carry to Jerusalem, they could convert it to money, sometimes called the festival tithe (Deuteronomy 14:22 – 27)
  • A tithe of the produce of the land collected every third year for the local Levites, orphans, strangers and widows (Deuteronomy 14:28 – 29, 26:12 – 13)

The word TITHE simply means the TENTH PART , Hebrew word MAASER simply meaning tenth part.

So in essence God commanded the Israelites to give 23.3% of their income every year and not 10%. (20% yearly and 10% every three years comes to 23.3 % every year. God commanded all the three tithes – Nehemiah 12:44, Malachi 3:8 – 42, Hebrews 7:5)

So there is a parallel between the modern taxation system and Israel’s tithing system. Israel was obligated to support their national workers (Priests), Their holidays (festivals), their poor (Strangers, widows and orphans) with their annual tithes.

 

According to Colossians 2:13 – 14, 16 – 17, and Hebrews 6 – 10, we see that tithing belonged exclusively to Israel under the law. When it comes to financial stewardship, the first century Christians gave cheerfully according to their ability, not dutifully out of a command (2 Corinthians 8:3 – 12, 9:5 – 13)

 

In the 3rd Century, Cyprian of Carthage was the first Christian writer to mention the practice of financially supporting the clergy just as the Levites were supported by the tithe. But this is misguided thinking because the Levitical system has been abolished. We are all priests now so if a priest demands tithe, then all Christians should tithe to one another.

 

FYI:

In the 7th and 8th Centuries leasing of land was a familiar characteristic in the European Economy and the use of the tithe or the tenth, was commonly used to calculate payments to landlords. As the church increased in it’s ownership of land across Europe, the 10% rent charge shifted from secular landlords to the church. Ecclesiastical leaders became the landlords and the tithe became ecclesiastical tax.  This gave the 10% charge a new meaning and was creatively applied to the old testament Law and came to be identified with the Levitical tithe. So consequently the Christian tithe as an institution was based on a fusion of Old testament practice and a common system of land leasing in medieval-Europe.

 

I ask you to research keenly and see what I am trying to put across here and ask God to open your eyes and see what we are supposed to do. I ask for you to feel free to add comments objections and thoughts towards this insight.

 

Jonathan Siaga

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6 comments

  1. Jonathan Siaga said, “So in essence God commanded the Israelites to give 23.3% of their income every year and not 10%.”

    This is a common error in understanding the Biblical tithe. The Biblical tithe always came from assets and never from income.

    When God gave the Israelites the promised land, He RESERVED, for Himself, a tenth of the crops and every tenth animal. They NEVER did belong to the Israelites. In other words, the tithe was from God’s increase of FOOD, not from man’s income. It was a way to distribute FOOD to the Levites and priests who did NOT inherit any land.

    No one, not even the farmers, tithed on their income.

    The farmers made their income by SELLING and/or barter-exchanging their crops and animals but did NOT tithe on that income.

    • Thanks Gary for the comment however I would need proof of what you are stating… show me from a biblical source or literature based on the bible that what you are saying is what actually took place. 🙂 Thanks again

  2. Leviticus 27:30 (KJV) 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.

    The tenth of the seed of the land or fruit of the tree, in other words, the crops, IS the Lord’s. The Lord kept the tenth of those items. Those are defined as assets, not income. Income comes from the sale or exchange of those items.

    Leviticus 27:31 (KJV) And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

    Leviticus 27:32 (KJV) 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.

    The tenth animal in herds and flocks belongs to the Lord. The animals are assets. The sale or exchange of the animals would produce income.

    Leviticus 27:33 (KJV) He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

    Leviticus 27:34 (KJV) These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

    Being a retired accountant and income tax auditor, when I first studied the topic of tithing I saw that the tenth always came from the assets and never from anyone’s income. It’s a matter of definition, not interpretation.

    The same with the second and third tithes in Deut. 14:22-29.

  3. Also, Numbers 18:26 (KJV) 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.

    God gave the tenth to the Levites BEFORE He even gave the increase. The increase never did belong to the Israelites. They merely took it to the Levites.

    • What am trying to get at is what was the purpose of giving the tithe weather they kept the income or gave their assets…. what was God teaching them through this practice and what lessons can we get from this exercise? How are we to tithe today and now based on the instructions in the bible?

  4. THE FIRST TITHE
    Leviticus 27:30-33 defines this tithe as a tenth of crops and animals in herds and flocks.
    Numbers 18 gives the ordinances, or instructions, for this tithe, and commands this tithe be taken to the Levites.
    Purpose of this tithe: to support the Levitical Priesthood.

    SECOND TITHE
    Deuteronomy 14:22-27: aka The Festival Tithe – a tenth of crops, plus add to that the firstborn animals, and take for the yearly feast.
    Purpose of this tithe: “that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always”

    THIRD TITHE
    Deuteronomy 14:28-29: aka The Three-Year Tithe aka The Poor Tithe – a tenth of crops, kept at home, and invite the Levites, widows, orphans, stranger to eat.
    Purpose of this tithe: to feed the poor.

    You can’t take the purpose of one of the three tithes and associate it with one of the other tithes. Each has it own definition, instructions, and purpose.

    We can’t Biblically tithe today. It is not possible. Tithing ended at the cross per Hebrews 7:5,12,18.

    Malachi 3:7 (KJV) “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ORDINANCES, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”

    Colossians 2:14 (KJV) “Blotting out the handwriting of ORDINANCES that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

    The New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving, from the heart, according to our means. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice, while for others, even giving 50% of their income might not induce a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, ONLY the farmers tithed, and it was equal percentage (a tenth). The New Testament teaches the principle of equal sacrifice instead of equal percentage. Equal sacrifice is much harder to achieve, if not impossible, than giving ten percent.


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