I again appreciate all of the comments I have been receiving. I am really taking them all into consideration. Obviously I have determined that the Tithe is not a requirement of the New Covenant church. I believe a Pastor has the right to require anything of his members, that is between him and God, so long as it is not proclaim it is biblical.
I suppose it is my way of respecting the Word of God, if we believe the Bible to be the God’s word then he doesn’t need us adding anything to it even if it is for our own good, that is what the Pharisee’s thought when they burdened the people with their laws.
Speaking of the law, this week considers the many laws of tithing….
The “Law” of the Tithe
There are some interesting things to be found when you begin to honestly look into the Law, and see what it has to say about the tithe. As I began my study I started by looking up every time the word tithe appears in the old covenant. What I read was very interesting and I had rarely heard taught from any pulpit.
Leviticus 27 bring clarity to the idea of what the Israelites were to tithe on.
‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. 31 If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock–every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod–will be holy to the LORD. 33 He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’”
The tithe is everything from the “LAND.” This covenant was for the land of Israel, the Promised Land. It was for the fruit of the land, the crops and the agricultural products like animals. Tithing was tied to the land, if you owned no land or produced no crop you paid no tithe. Additionally we learn in Deuteronomy that the poor are not required to tithe; they receive from tithes they do not pay them. I have heard so many people ask “What if I can’t afford to tithe” and the reflexive response of those to espouse an obligation to the tithe is “You can’t afford not to, if you don’t tithe you will be cursed with a curse, but if you do tithe God will bless you.” This is not only disgusting in my opinion but the exact opposite of what the Bible tells us. When you examine Jewish history you discover that the poor were never required to tithe. “He who has barely sufficient for his own needs, is not obligated to give charity, for his own sustenance takes precedence over another’s,” is how the Code of Jewish Law puts it. Now in our materialistic society we may say we need things that we want however we are not permitted to splurge our way into poverty to avoid the tithe as some people do for taxes, but to demand someone sacrificially give into poverty is deplorable. Although, most people who teach tithe require all people to pay it, we have no proof that anyone who made a wage was ever required to pay a tithe, as a wage was an exchange for services, and the tithe was an offering to the Lord for the increase.
Another interesting question we must ask ourselves when examining the Old Covenant teachings on the tithe is “Just how many tithes were there?” Was it just one ten percent tithe, two ten percent tithes or more? I only know of one church that teaches the second tithe taken every third year for the widows and orphans. However it appears with a little bit of study that there were three tithes. The first is the tithe to the Levites to replacement for their inheritance as discussed in Numbers 18 “”I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.” The second discussed in Deuteronomy if a festival tithe and the Bible requires us to do what would be considered a very strange thing in today’s churches.
Deut 14:22 – Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
Notice again that the tithe is only referring to agricultural items, what your fields produce and your herds and flocks. Secondly you are supposed to eat it and celebrate the goodness of God. I have heard sermons talking about “eating your tithe” but it was always negative; it referred to people who did not pay their tithe but instead consumed it in their daily lives. However, right here in a passage marked tithes by most bibles, we are told we are to consume it, and if one was not able to transport it you could sell it and then buy what you liked, including fermented drink! Could you imagine using your tithe to throw a party inviting all the people who would not be able to afford such a celebration? I do not think it would go over well with most of the church but it appears it would be the biblical thing to do.
Finally just after this passage in Deuteronomy we find the passage explaining tithe for the needy.
Deut 14 28 – At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Scholars have debated for a long time if this is a separate tithe or if ever three years the normal tithe was to be used to help those in need. The only church I know that teaches this teaches it is an additional tithe so those members pay thirteen and a third percent every year to make budgeting easier. Nevertheless it appears that Old Covenant tithing was at least twenty percent if not twenty three and a third. As Dr. Kelly so eloquently tells us:
These texts, Deuteronomy 12:6-7; 14:22-29; and 26:12-13 present a real dilemma for those who teach New Covenant tithing. First, if these verses are only a later amended part of the original tithe ordinance found in Numbers 18, then Deuteronomy should have priority over Leviticus and Numbers. This would mean that tithers should be allowed to feast off the tithes they bring to church! [How does one eat money?] Failure to do so would be failure to follow the final biblical tithing revelation. Second, if the church admits that the feast tithe was indeed a second tithe, then it must also teach a minimum of twenty percent as an expectation of the church. This is a lose-lose situation!
For the sake of brevity I will move on to new things but if you would like to read more about the law and the tithe I highly recommend Dr Kelly’s thesis which can be downloaded here (http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com/) it is very much worth the time it takes to read it.
The Discovery that Changed my life I
The Discovery that Changed my life II
The Discovery that Changed my life III
The Discovery that Changed my life IV
The Discovery that Changed my life V