Exposé on Tithing
by Deborah Kirby, joyinthemorning.com
I am first and foremost a daughter of the Most High. He has blessed me with three maturing children, ages 12 years old through 7 years old, and a Christian husband who is my best friend. I spend my days home schooling my children, tending the 'home front', exploring God's Word, and lifting up my fellow sisters in Christ. I have a tremendous appetite for the Lord's Word and a desire to know Him to deep depths. As for my fellow sisters in the Lord, I have a passion to see them walking out their destinies in Christ. In all things, Give Him Praise!
Okay, so this is a hot button topic within The Church. I am not clueless when it comes to this point, but I want you to take a deep breath, understanding that my desire is to educate – to get you to evaluate what you do and why you do it.
It's fascinating to me that, while many churches instruct their congregations to tithe, I personally have yet to hear a teaching on the details of the subject from them. I'm going to approach this essay in a bullet-point presentation format. Hopefully this will help minimize this complex subject so that it is easier to evaluate.
I will state for the record neither I nor Joy In The Morning Ministries support the tithe as it is commonly taught in churches today.
So, let's do a little digging, shall we? (Though I cannot cover everything on this topic in this short essay, it is my prayer that what I do share provokes you to explore the topic for yourself. We must stop the blind acceptance of what we have heard or what has been spoon-fed to us. It is lazy and unacceptable of those who truly desire truth and growth to default to these destructive patterns.)
Understand, it is the misuse of the word “tithe” that is to be addressed here. At the core of my being, I wholly support The Gospel's edification of generous giving. The rub is how churches today misuse an Old Testament ordinance and overlay it on believers in The Church. Okay – enough prepping.
- A tithe (note I did not say “the” tithe) was customary by many religions and people groups before it was used in the Levitical Law. War-spoils were routinely tithed to kings/leaders and to gods. To take what Abraham did in Genesis 14, as was customary for the day, and imply a pre-concept to a spiritual tithe worthy to be continued post-Cross is a direct insult to the Cross. But if one is determined that Abraham's act is an appropriate foundation for continuing his tithe upon The Church, then it stands to reason that other practices of his time such as child sacrifice and temple prostitutes should also be carried forward.
- The Levitical tithe had two parts. Both parts were food tithes from inside Israel, even though money was present in Genesis. For over 1500 years, the Levitical tithe was never money, nor did it come from outside Israel, nor did it come from man's increase nor his ability. It only came from within Israel based on the increase gathered from what God produced from His holy land of Israel. Tithes were not permitted from Gentiles nor their lands.
- But as for the two parts: The first was for the support of the Levites. (Lev 27:30, Numbers 18:20-32) The second was for the Lord's feast (Deut 14:22), however every third year this particular part was kept 'at home' to be used to supply food to the poor.
- To begin your exploration of food as the “approved currency” by God, I'll list the following: (I encourage you to look them up.) Lev 27:30, 32; Numbers 18: 27-28; Deut 12:17; Deut 14:22-23; Deut 26:12; Neh 10:37; Neh 13: 5. There are others.... see if you can locate them!
- According to Numbers 18:20-28, those who received the Levitical tithes were not allowed to own or inherit property. Though the Levitical priesthood has been nullified, those who receive the tithe today – do they practice the denial of property ownership? Can you take a part of the regulation and not take the other parts, and yet still call it valid?
- If one still adheres to the precept of the application of the tithe today, does it not stand to reason that ALL aspects of the tithe must be adhered to? Meaning, tithes are to be food (NOT money) …. from inside Israel! Only priests/pastors can enter the church. The first tithe must go to the minister's servants. The ministers can only receive one percent of the total tithe. The ministers must kill anyone who attempts to worship God directly. And as stated above, they can not own land. Do you see how nonsensical this is? Adherence to one law out of over six hundred is futile. We, The Church, are not under ANY portion of the Law – neither one or six hundred plus. If you are okay with one shackle about you, why not take on all six hundred plus because be it one, or over six hundred, you are still permitting yourself to be shackled!
- The temple which the tithe supported was abolished in 70AD. The New Testament declares that the believer is now the temple of God. (I Corin. 3:16, 6:19-20)
- The priesthood was also abolished in 70AD. Again the New Testament declares that the believer now carries the priesthood of God. (I Peter 2:9-10)
- To suggest that today's churches are the temple/storehouse of the Old Testament is out right wrong. We must remember that after Christ's death Christianity was outlawed..... for CENTURIES! There were NO buildings. It doesn't take a genius to gather from the New Testament we, the believers, are The Church – without mortar or brick! WE...meaning you and me.... individual people who have been declared as God's temples are to be the storehouses of today who minister to the needy. Keep reading to hear Paul's take in a moment.
- We know from Galatians 3: 10- 14 that those under the works of the Law were under a curse. Why would some one put another person back under such a curse when Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us?”
- We know too that Jesus and Paul did NOT qualify as tithe-payers. Contrary to popular thought, NOT every Jew was required to pay the tithe. Only farmers and herdsmen paid the tithe based on what God produced as the increased. (Are these facts news to you?! If so, DIG, dear ones!)
- How else are pastors to be paid? Well Paul said it best in Acts 20: 33-35: “I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Paul supported himself by his hands and hard work, in addition to his labor of love for The Church! Imagine that! In 2 Corin. 12:14-18, he says, “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours..... I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls.....I did not burden you myself ...” My stars, so not only did Paul set the example of working to support himself, but edified others to do in kind -- working so that they could both support themselves – not being any one's burden – and be able to bless the poor!
- Micah's passage is often used to encourage paying of the tithe. To read it in context, though, one discovers it was a judgment against the nation of Israel. It had nothing to do with The Church whatsoever. How twisted that some leaders take a judgment against one entity to imply manipulation of gain to a completely different entity not even around at the time the judgment was passed! Think about that for a moment!
- Hebrews 12 is the only New Testament passage that mentions tithes, and it is in the context of stating the Levitical priesthood was therefore insufficient and replaced with Christ. Read carefully Hebrews 12: 4-12.... note the words in verse 12: “for when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.” Temple Law is passed away for Kingdom Law. Verse 19 goes on to say, “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” We tend to read Biblical recount of facts as if it is saying something more than simply recounting what took place. No one is saying Abraham did not give a tithe prior to the Law, but one has to place his act in the context of customary – not exceptional – for the day. In other words, his act was not a precursor for the Law nor was it something that was “outside” of the Law that was to be carried forward to today. The point being made is that the noblest of acts – be it any tithe, the Law, the Leviticus priesthood --- the whole ball of wax --- was inadequate then, as it is inadequate now. ONLY Christ satisfies God's redemption and restoration of the believer to Himself. Period.
As written in my article titled, Exposé:
Churches have backed themselves into a perpetual state of support. They know if the support drops, they drop. How better to work people up to a state of consistent giving, as promoted by the erroneous 10% tithe teaching, than to imply it is scriptural to do so. This is no different than what the Jews did in the Early Church by attempting to bring the practice of circumcision upon the Gentile convert. Any thing mixed with the Gospel is leaven and must be cast out or it will corrupt the purity of the Gospel message. Perhaps the church leaderships across the land have not read in 2 Corin 9:7 where Paul state, "Each man should give what he had decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Charles Spurgeon wrote in 1880, "But you are not under a system similar to that by which the Jews were obliged to pay tithes to the priests. If there were any such rule laid down in the Gospel, it would destroy the beauty of spontaneous giving and take away all the bloom from the fruit of your liberality! There is no law to tell me what I should give my father on his birthday. There is no rule laid down in any law book to decide what a present a husband should give to his wife, no what token of affection we should bestow upon others whom we love. No, the gift must be a free one, or it has lost all its sweetness."
Just to name a few Biblical scholars, both past and present, who agree the tithe has NO business being taught in the churches today are Charles Spurgeon, Dr. Martin Luther, John MacArthur, and J. Vernon McGee. I am hopeful the list is more extensive, but these are who I have found to be anti-tithe teachers in my own personal digging.
BY NO MEANS do I claim to be an expert in this area, but I have done a lot of digging on the subject for several years, weighing through Jewish life, Old Testament Law and practices, and the beauty of The Gospel. When put together, God's tremendous love and grace are revealed in such a manner that it truly boggles my mind that anyone would dare to continue propelling the tithe teaching today.
I firmly believe the tithe teaching is leaven in The Church and needs to be eradicated. As I have said, I completely support The Gospel message of generous giving, but I do not under any circumstances support tithing as it is being taught today. I trust you have learned a thing or two through the reading of this article and have been encouraged to DIG for yourself. I know I won't stop exploring and learning!
Don't allow anyone, myself included, to spoon-feed you!
“Study to show yourself approved!” (2 Tim 2:15)
© 2012 Deborah Kirby
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