Friday, August 2, 2019
First, I know there are those who say that tithing is not required under the New Covenant. But that’s the equivalent of saying that God no longer cares “that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always”, or cares about ministry laborers or “the stranger and the fatherless and the widow”. Therefore, the law of the biblical tithe remains for the meeting of those specific needs.
However, as religious leaders ignored God’s law, Jesus rebuked them saying “For laying aside the commandment of God, [which includes the tithe] you hold the tradition of men…making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:8, 13). But today, the tithe-pendulum has swung wildly the other way.
The tithe has morphed into a cash cow and deceptive theft enabling leaders to spend frivolously. Just follow the money! And it’s especially true when it involves getting and spending someone else’s money! Just look at our insolvent government. But it’s even true in the Church.
Traditionally, it’s been taught that professing Christians should tithe, meaning ten percent of our income to the church. Many even require tithing for membership. Your tithe is then spent as seen fit by others, i.e., leaders, pastors and the church board, for mortgages, salaries and maintenance, sabbaticals, a plethora of revolving church programs, vehicles, healthcare, missions, and worldly paraphernalia. What leadership won’t tell you, however, is that that model rejects God’s Word.
Church tradition has incentive to make us believe its version of the tithe is biblical because in large part the pastor’s brick and mortar empires are the beneficiaries. The words tithe or tithes occur 40 times in the NKJV Bible. Eight are in the New Testament, two of which are rebukes to religious leaders for paying the “tithe of mint and anise and cumin”, but “neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith”, while six confirm the O.T. law. Thus, not being rescinded, the O.T. command to tithe is yet for today, but has grossly departed from its purpose.
While there are O.T. examples of the tithe, God’s law remains the biblical model for the tithe which has no new revelation, command or precedent in the New Covenant. Though God does not change, men have changed God’s Word! Note, from Deut. 14:22–29, beginning at verse 22, “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. [Emphasis added]
24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you,
25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place [think familial vacation] which the Lord your God chooses. [Emphasis added]
26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. [Emphasis added]
27 You shall not forsake the Levite [The equivalent of New Covenant ministers] who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. [Meaning, no part in your familial tithe]
28 At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. [The every-third-year tithe is for the specific blessings of others]
29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do”. [Emphasis added]
Summary: “You shall truly tithe”, verse 22; “And you shall eat…the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil…that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always”, verse 23. And if “you are not able to carry the tithe”, verse 24, “then you shall exchange it for money”, verse 25, “And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires…you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household”, verse 26. However, in order that there may be food for the Levite (the equivalent of New Covenant ministers), for the stranger, and for the fatherless, and for the widow, verse 29, “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates”, verse 28.
So when Mal. 3:8–10 is read as a warning for not tithing ten percent to the Church, know that that warning was, and yet is, intended for those who do not obey God’s commanded tithe. We shall not fear the traditions of men, but indeed we shall reverently fear the commands of God!
While today’s traditional tithe has some noteworthy uses, the biblical tithe was never intended for building campaigns, bank mortgages, indebtedness, numerous costly programs constantly replaced by others, funding of worldly, flesh-pleasing worship experiences and high-end light and fake smoke shows so popular today. The annual overcharge of the tithe has garnered huge sums of others money, enabling leaders to spend that money on their desires.
Don’t miss the truth that two-thirds of the tithe is intended for you and your household, and the remaining one-third is for pastoral care and food for the stranger, the fatherless and the widows. But the church wants you to think you should tithe ten percent every week, month and year to it. But that’s false, for God has given you the ability to earn an increase, and with it He commands that you and your household enjoy the tithe together as you learn to fear God.
The false tithe began with Roman Catholicism. That’s how the Vatican built gaudy and ornate cathedrals globally on the backs of the poor! They sold indulgences! They extracted the unjust tithe for their greed of money, power and control. And when reformers made their exodus from “the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Rev. 17:1), the unjust tithe largely followed. Thus, many today build their multi-million dollar empires through the unjust tithe. Next week, Part 2.
Marlin J. Yoder