The Tithe is Illegal
by Gary Amirault
When I say "illegal," I certainly do not mean from the governmentís point of view. The American federal government has been extremely generous in allowing religious organizations almost free hands in their money raising endeavors, even to the point of giving them many kinds of tax advantages. By illegal, I mean that God never authorized Christian leaders to take a tithe from Godís people. One will not find the modern church tithe authorized in the Old Covenant, nor in the New Covenant. Certainly, church historians are in agreement, when they say that tithing was not practiced by the early believers.
The tithe is a subject that is very dear to most church leaders. Those denominations that can get their members to actually bring in a full 10% of gross income can create very powerful forces far beyond their strength in numbers. The leading "tithing" sects according to an article in Christian Ministry, are interestingly what Evangelicals would term "cults." The Jehovahís Witnesses, Mormons, and the World Wide Church of God are the leading givers. The fourth is the Assemblies of God. Recently, the World Wide Church of God abandoned the tithe as un-Scriptural. Donations dropped 30 per cent in the first year. (While the article in Christian Ministry lists the Jehovah's Witneses among leading tithing denominations, I've since been informed by that organization that Jehovah's Witnesses do not practice tithing.)
According to Newsweek, most church members give far less than 10%, most giving under 2 per cent. Not surprising is the fact that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich. USA Today (Oct. 25, 1990) tells us that families earning less than $10,000 give 5.5 per cent of their income to charity (not necessarily to church). Families earning between $50,000 and $60,000 give only 1.7% of their earnings.
We hope to show in this book that while many church fund-raising organizations and Christian financial counseling ministries tell us that not paying "the tithe" is robbing God, the actual Biblical facts are that those who teach tithing as a Christian doctrine are, in fact, the ones who are "robbing God." As we go through this article, keep in mind the above statistic that the poor far out-give the rich percentage-wise.
I am going to make a statement that will probably shock many Christians who have been in church for a long period of time and feel they know the Bible pretty well. I hope this statement encourages the reader to "see for themselves" that this statement is 100 per cent Biblically true. My hope is that when we see how far off Scriptural ground we have come in such basic Christian teachings as giving, we will renew our desire to study to "show ourselves approved." Here is the statement: The tithe as taught by most Christian denominations as being 10 per cent of gross or net income is not contained on the pages of the Bible!
Many Christian publications say that those who do not tithe are robbing God and will suffer curses for not doing so. I am going to use one of them as an example of what Scriptures and reasoning are usually used to support the idea that the church is full of God robbers, that is, people who do not tithe 10 per cent of their income.
A booklet entitled Tithes, Offering, and Alms states: "Today many churches do not teach tithing because they do not want to drive people away. In reality they are robbing Godís people of their blessing. When tithing is not taught, they are allowing their people to ignorantly rob God. By this they allow the devourer to have free access to their people. Then the church and the people wonder why they are not being blessed. When Godís people return again unto God, He will return unto them as He has promised."
By this ministerís own reasoning then, the Churches of the world are full of "God-robbers." The vast majority of Christians do not even come close to giving ten per cent of their income. Most churches are overflowing with "God-robbers."
While this booklet Tithes, Offerings, and Alms deals with more than just the tithe, we will only focus on the tithe since that is the subject of this article.
I am not mentioning the author of this work hoping in days ahead he will see the foolishness of what he wrote.
In one small paragraph, this minister condemned to the devourer entire congregations who do not tithe. As long as people do not tithe, he says, they have turned their backs to God and He cannot bless them. They are God robbers! The booklet I just quoted is very typical of publications like this. They all refer to the same handful of Scriptures to justify their position.
I will use this one as an example of which Scriptures are used to support their view and then show how these Scriptures have not only been grossly taken out of context, but even these Scriptures out of context do not support the teaching of tithing being 10% of income.
We will then study the history of tithing in the Old Testament, the early church view on the subject, and what we believe is the correct Biblical view on giving.
What Saith the Scriptures?
Those who teach that Christians are obligated to tithe can be categorized into two main groups: 1. those who say we are still under the Mosaic Law or portions of it; 2. those who say the tithe is part of the Abrahamic Covenant which is pre-Mosaic. The latter group says the Abrahamic Covenant, being a covenant of faith, is valid for the church. They say Abraham was a tither. Therefore, we should tithe.
Let us deal first with the pre-Mosaic arguments. This teaching is used by those ministries who have taught the Mosaic Law is done away with and therefore cannot be put upon Christians. They are correct regarding the Mosaic Law having passed away.
(We cannot get into this subject fully because it would take up too much space, but a handful of Scriptures might be helpful to those who disagree on this point. See 2 Cor. 3:11,13; Hebrews 8:13; Gal. 4:21-26; really all of Galatians and Hebrews.)
Briefly, the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant) was a two-sided agreement between Israel and Yahweh in which Yahweh would bless them if they kept their part of the agreement and He would curse them if they didnít. It was an all or nothing package. A person was not allowed to turn this agreement into a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what suited oneís religious diet. They could not choose what to keep and what to throw out. James 2:10 tells us that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."
Almost all denominations of Christianity have taken portions of the Mosaic Covenant, "Christened them," and added them to the New Covenant. Without being aware of it, this has made most Christians guilty of the whole Mosaic Law, which says it all must be kept. At the same time, they have "fallen from grace" because of mixing it with a covenant which no longer serves a purpose for those under the New Covenant. This is not to say that we cannot learn many wonderful truths from the Mosaic Law. We are just no longer in covenantal relationship with God through that covenant. We are in covenantal relationship with God through a New Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, not Moses.
The fact that most denominations of Christendom have not understood this vital point has caused us to fall from "grace through faith," the very power of the New Covenant itself. What is tragic is that most Christians are not even aware of this "falling away" which has been going on for hundreds of years. Most denominations have mixed the Mosaic Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant, which is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2) One covenant brought death (and always will); the other brought Life. If you believe any of the Old Covenant is still binding to a believer in Christ, read what Paul has to say in 2 Corinthians chapter three verses four through eighteen about the cornerstone of the Mosaic Covenant, that is, the Ten Commandments. This should cure anyone of binding themselves to the "ministry of death." The consequences of this mixture have been catastrophic. A careful non-biased survey of church history should reveal what this mixture has produced. While this paper is not about Mosaic Law versus Grace, I felt the subject had to be touched somewhat. Back to the subject at hand.
Is the "tithe" Pre-Mosaic?
Now let us deal with the teaching that says that the Biblical tithe was pre-Mosaic.
The first place we come across offerings of any kind is in Genesis 4:3-7. Cain brought forth an offering from the fruit of the ground to the LORD and Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. The LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering, which caused Cain to become very angry.
Most Christians who teach tithing would also consider themselves Bible literalists, that is, they are opposed to "spiritualizing" the Scriptures. However, when we get down to some of their pet doctrines, we find that literalists often quickly abandon their "literalism" and "spiritualize."
In Genesis 4:3, the passage mentioned above, there is not a hint as to the amount being offered. Both fruit of the ground and flocks are acceptable offerings. One could point out that Abel brought blood and Cain did not. One could perhaps make something of the fact that Abel gave of his "first-born" while nothing is said about Cainís offering. We could attempt to "spiritualize" here, but if we let the Scripture stand as it is with a "literal" interpretation, we do not have a "Biblical tithe" here. We have two offerings; one acceptableóone unacceptable.
We have to travel 2000 years ahead in history to find another trace of offerings to the LORD. We come to Abraham and His offering to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. I want to make an emphatic point here as we analyze this portion of Scripture. As I said before, literalists are not very literal. If true "spiritual" understanding comes from a "literal" approach, then Scriptures such as the following do not make much sense: "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are "spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14) If the Bible can be understood with the natural mind using a "literalist" approach to the Bible, then the above Scripture is not true. The fact is, the Scriptures and the things of God need to be "spiritually discerned." They are "foolishness" to the "natural mind." Even Christians can be naturally, carnally, fleshly minded. "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ." (1 Cor. 3:1) A Christian, while claiming to be a literalist, who finds himself having to add to or subtract from Scriptures to make them fit into their doctrines, is still very carnal. The next portion of Scripture we will look at will bear this out.
There are those who say that, while we are not under the Mosaic Law, we Christians, are children of faith. Our father in this faith is Abraham. (So far so good.) Then comes the nice little carnal step which shows how unliteral "literalists" can be. They say that Abraham was a tither and therefore we must be tithers. Well, let us be literalists for a moment and look at that Scripture to see what it "literally" says.
The 14th Chapter of Genesis deals with a battle between 9 kings, five against four. The first part of Chapter 14, is very difficult to understand. The King James Bible does not tell us, but the Jewish Bible called the Tanakh (which is the Old Testament) tells us that some of the meaning of the Hebrew in this Chapter is uncertain. (It seems the Jews are more honest in their translating than some Christian Bible translators.)
Abram, with 318 of his men, went after the four kings who spoiled the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah. Abram defeated the kings, and set his nephew Lot free. On the way back with all the spoils of war, the king of Sodom met Abram in the kingís valley. Here a mysterious king of Salem, priest of the God Most High, brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram. Abram then gave a tenth of those spoils to Melchizedek.
At this point, the king of Sodom told Abram to take everything except the people. It is not clear in the text whose goods and people are involved here. The armies which Abram defeated had attacked several other kingdoms before they spoiled Sodom and Gomorrah. When Abram defeated them, he must have collected a tremendous amount of wealth plus people which could be turned into slaves.
One thing is clear in this passage, these "spoils" were not the property of Abram. They belonged to other kingdoms which were defeated by the previously mentioned kings. The dividing of all the "spoils of war" and the people is also not completely clear. One thing, however, is clear--Abram kept nothing! Furthermore, there is no reference in the Bible that Abram gave the king of Salem anything else, ever. In other words, there is no tradition prior to nor after this event of giving a tenth of the spoils of war to the king of Melchizedek. In addition, there is no directive anywhere in the Scriptures which grants the right for any human being to place themselves into the priesthood of Melchizedek commanding tithes of Godís people! The jump from this event to the modern day tradition of offering tithes to a pastor or head of an organization claiming this fulfills the event in Genesis is going way beyond literalism and way beyond "spiritualizing." It is nothing short of twisting the Scriptures for self-gain.
Let us also consider the fact that slavery was certainly a part of life in this region. Spoils of war included people. Are we to "tithe" captured enemies when Christian nations go to war?
The king of Sodom said Abram could keep all the goods, he just wanted the people. It is not clear which people he referred to. We may assume he was referring to his own citizens who were captured, but that would be mere conjecture.
There are many questions which can be asked about this mysterious passage, but there are some very clear points that can be made. Abram gave a tenth of these spoils of war to Melchizedek. If tithing is the issue here, then Abram had every right to keep the rest, but Abram gave it all back. He used a part to feed his army and he allowed three men to keep their share. Abram didnít give a "full tithe" of ten per cent. Abram gave it all away!
"I will take nothing from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ĎI have made Abram rich.í" (Gen. 14:23)
There is nothing here to indicate Abram gave a tenth of his personal possessions. Note Abram said, "I will take nothing that is yours." This shows he did not tithe his own possessions. It should also be noted, these spoils went to this mysterious king of Salem, not to a pastor, denominational headquarters, etc. There is not one record that Abram did anything like this again. There is nothing in the Bible up to this point to indicate that God wanted a tenth of everything a person owned. If He did want that, it seems it wouldnít have been to difficult to simply state that He did, but He didnít. Abram offered a free-will offering of spoils of war to a mysterious king.
If we take passages of Scripture such as the previous one which describes an event which occurred thousands of years ago in a culture totally foreign to our ways today, and say that we should do the same things, then we should be consistent. Why pick and chose those Scriptures which suit our carnal little minds? This Scripture taken literally means we will all starve to death. We end up with nothing! Furthermore, if we literally follow Abramís example, we should be giving most of our earnings to the king of Sodom! Obviously, something else is going on here other than what tradition has taught us.
It is important not to take cultural traditions from generations thousands of years ago, and apply them to today just because they are recorded in the Bible. Abraham took several animals and cut them in half when making an agreement with God. Why do we not do the same in our modern cultures? Why are tithing teachers so selective as to which ancient traditions they wish to place upon the backs of Godís people? I suppose checks in the offering plate are more desirable and less messy than chopped up animals on the altar or in the offering plate. Just because the Bible records a practice done thousands of years ago, is not a good reason to continue the practice today. We must "rightly divide the Word of God."
There is another example of Godís people receiving spoils of war from which portions were divided into "offerings" to priests. Will we find this act consistent with what Abram did? Let us look at that event.
In Numbers Chapter 31, Israel "took vengeance for the Lord on Midian." (Num. 31:3) Twelve thousand Israelites went to war with Midian. First, they killed all the males. Forget the Geneva Peace Accord about proper treatment of prisoners. Kill them all! Remember how we feel when our troops are treated this way in war? We are outraged!
Next they took the women and children captive and brought them along with the rest of the spoils to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation. Now some ministers might be proud of a congregation such as this, but Moses was angry with them. "Have you kept the women alive?" he said. "Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately." (Num. 31:16-18)
Now we could talk about this passage of Scripture for days and still not run out of things to say, so we wonít analyze this incident beyond its relationship to tithing. Suffice it to say, that a minister who would try to bring the above command from the Lord into modern society, would find himself in jail or seated in the electric chair.
Just a few glances into the New Testament to see how Jesus treated Gentile sinners should shed some light on the difference between the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus and the Law of Moses. What did Jesus do to the woman at the well who had 5 "husbands," was living with a sixth who was not her husband? Did He stone her? What about the woman caught in the very act of adultery? Did Jesus cast the first stone? Jesus never commanded anyone to kill anyone! Moses did. How should we as Christians treat our enemies? Do you remember? Could you, as a Christian, kill baby boys and women who were not virgins if your government or your pastor told you to do it? I hope not! These examples and dozens more throughout the books commonly, but incorrectly named The New Testament should reveal to us that the New Covenant and the Old Covenant are radically different!
"Count the plunder that was takenóof man and beast..." (Num. 31:26) We see that humans were counted as "plunder." Then the "plunder" was divided between those who went to war and those who didnít. From those spoils, an offering was given. Those who went to war were to give one out of every five hundred persons, cattle, donkeys, and sheep to Eleazar the priest. Those who didnít go to war had to give one out of every fifty persons, cattle, donkeys, and sheep to the Levites (ministers).
Unlike Abramís offering to Melchizedek, a good part of their spoils had to be killed. Then they had to give two-tenths of one per cent to the high priest. Those who didnít fight had to give two per cent to the Levites (ministers). If tithing was like what is preached today, or like the Abram incident, why does this incident totally contradict "ten per cent off the top?" Why do tithing teachers not refer to this Scripture and make it the standard for giving? Could it be the simple fact that ten per cent is much more than 2 per cent or two tenths of one per cent? These very commands were given by "the LORD to Moses." (Num. 31:25) They are Godís very words written in the Bible. Why do tithing teachers avoid reference to this passage of Scripture?
First of all, it totally contradicts their teaching. Furthermore, it reveals some aspects of Moses Law which they would prefer laymen not study too thoroughly. When a Christian truly begins to see the difference between the Old Covenant and New, deceitful ministers who use portions of the Old Covenant to hold Godís people in bondage, will become manifest. They do not want to be exposed.
We must go on. But I do want to point out that this portion of Scripture is full of spiritual truths which the "literalist mind" will never be able to learn anything from. This Scripture as well as all Scripture needs to be "spiritually discerned."
Why do those who teach and practice tithing no longer practice slavery, and the killing of women and children as revealed previously? Well, perhaps they do, but most of the slaves do not realize they are slaves to a system which places burdens upon the backs of Godís people that He never placed upon their backs! Few Christians are aware of how spiritually dead they really are until they come out of the graveyards in which they worship!
This passage of Scripture tells us the "spoils" had to be cleansed with fire and water. From a "spiritual" point of view, this speaks volumes. From a natural point of view, hygiene might be the best we can get from the passage.
Having been a part of quite a few churches, I have been amazed at some of the occupations many Christians are involved in. Many of these occupations clearly violate Old Testament Laws and the New Testament spirit. Yet I have not found too many ministers reject the money from these sources due to these people or their occupations being "unclean" from a Mosaic Covenant point of view. Spend a few weeks reading specific laws, and the penalties for breaking those laws found in the first few books of the Bible and then try to bring them into our present day cultural and religious societies. They just wonít work. Remember, one canít pick and choose which laws to leave out. The Mosaic Law is a contract which one cannot break by deleting certain ordinances, rites, or commands. All must be kept in order to receive the benefits which God would bestow upon those who kept their part of the agreement. Furthermore, it was a national covenant. A single personís sin could and did affect the entire nation. Please think this through. This is vitally important to realize.
Summarizing "Spoils of war"
So we have seen two accounts of how spoils of war were dealt with by Godís people. It should be pointed out that the incident with Abram was prior to God making a covenant with him. The Abrahamic Covenant is in Chapter 15 of Genesis. The tithe on the spoils given to Melchizedek is in Chapter 14. If God made a law that ten per cent of the spoils of war belonged to Him, then He must have changed the law in Numbers Chapter 31. But God never changed anything. The fact of the matter is there was never a law demanding ten per cent of income before or after Abraham, before or after Moses, before or after Jesus, or before or after any of them. It has never existed except under deceitful or ignorant or sincerely misled ministers claiming for themselves in the name of God what God has never given them the right to take.
The Abrahamic Covenant
The ratification of what we call the Abrahamic Covenant, or the Covenant of Faith is found in Genesis Chapter 15. Not one single word is found about tithing. Abram brought a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He cut everything except the birds in half, drove the vultures away, and fell asleep and beheld a great horror and great darkness. Then when the sun went down, "Behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces." (Gen 15:17) Here we have the ratification of the Abrahamic Covenant. Two lights passed between the animal halves while Abraham slept. Here is the Covenant of Faith ...all God. Man sleeps. Man can never enter into covenant with God because he will always break the covenant. God instituted the Mosaic Covenant to prove that. So then, in the Abrahamic covenant, we see a one-sided agreement, God agreeing with Himself, while Abraham slept. No tithe here. (By the way, a person who thinks they "decided" to follow Jesus, still doesnít know what the Abrahamic Covenant is all about.)
Returning back to our search for tithing in the Old Testament, we see the word tithe is found in Genesis 28:20-22. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, spent the night at a place called Luz (almond tree). He had an incredible dream in which Yahweh reaffirmed the promise He made with Abraham. Jacob anointed the stone which was by his head when he slept and called the place Bethel, which means "house of God." At this point, Jacob tried to make a deal with God.
"If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my fatherís house in peace, then the LORD (Yahweh) shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Godís house, and of all You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." (Gen. 28:20-22) What we see here, is typical of Jacob, the heel-grabber, conniver before he became Israel, "a prince with God."
If Abraham had taught his children to tithe, then Jacob had no business trying to make a deal with God. "You take good care of me and Iíll give you back 10 per cent." Jacob, the heel-grabber made a conditional promise to God. We do not find God answering Jacob. (Jacob also called a stone which he anointed with oil the "house of God." Is that stone the "house of God?" If we are going to be literal, then let us be consistent. Either that stone is the "house of God," or Jacob still had some growing up to do spiritually.)
While we find Jacob playing "Letís make a deal" with God, we do not find a single passage of Scripture which declares the deal was made or that the deal was to be passed on to his off-spring. There certainly is no indication whatsoever that any of His attempt to make a deal with God has anything to do with us apart from the fact that many of us seem to have the same nature Jacob had. We seem to play the same games with God that Jacob played. There are many truths we can learn from Jacob who would one day become Israel, but tithing is not something we can learn from him. There is not a single record that God commanded him to tithe and not a single record that he ever did.
If there were ever an opportunity for God to conclusively show He was interested in 10 per cent of gross income, Joseph had a perfect opportunity to make it absolutely clear. If you recall, Joseph interpreted a couple of dreams foretelling 7 years of good harvest followed by 7 years of famine. Joseph, "a man in whom the Spirit of God is," (Gen. 41:38) told Pharaoh to set aside one fifth of the grain from the 7 years of plenty to carry them through the 7 years of famine. I am sure there are many great truths we could dig up in the 47th Chapter of Genesis, but we must stay on the topic of tithing.
As the famine grew, Joseph sold grain to those living in Egypt and Canaan, until "Joseph brought all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan." The famine continued. The Egyptians then sold all their livestock to Joseph. At the end of that year they came to Joseph again. This time he bought their land and their very bodies in exchange for food. At this point, the Pharaoh, through Josephís administration, owned everything in Egypt except the land of the priests. Pharaoh had given the priests an allotment of food throughout this time and they therefore did not sell their land.
Joseph had in that moment in history, a perfect opportunity to create a perfect economical system. What did he do? Did he institute a "tithe?" After all, if tithing was a God ordained system among the patriarchs, here was Josephís perfect opportunity to institute the system throughout all of Egypt. After all, Josephís descendants were going to spend the next several hundred years in Egypt. He had a perfect opportunity to create an environment in which Yahweh would bless them and not curse them. So, did he set up a tithe of 10 per cent of gross or net income? No! Joseph first of all did not give the Egyptian people their possessions back. Capitalism was out. He gave them seed to grow new crops on land which now belonged to Pharaoh. Then, from the harvest of the government-given seed, 20 per cent went to Pharaoh to do with as he willed. The citizens of Egypt were allowed to keep the other eighty per cent. The people remained servants of Pharaoh. (The term "servants" in the Old Testament usually meant "slaves.")
"And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaohís." (Gen. 47:26)
It should be pointed out that there is not even a hint in Scripture that Israel while in Egypt would be under a different system than the one Joseph set up. For those of you who do see types and shadows in the Old Testament, many see Joseph (increaser, adding) as a type of Jesus Christ. There is much to learn here, but tithing is not one of them.
Now twenty per cent, is a very reasonable and probably healthy tax to keep a government running. You see, most of the countries at this time were not structured anything like governments today. Those who teach tithing do not tell us that there was no such thing as separation of church and state at this time in history. The kings and Pharaohs were often recognized as gods. These kingdoms were theocracies. What the king collected from the people could be used for anything from building roads, paying teachers, making war or building temples. Like I said, there was no separation of church and state.
What Joseph set up, whether we like it or not, was an economic system which forbid private land ownership with a twenty per cent tax on grain. Keep in mind, the Spirit of God was in him.
We do not find a 30 to 40 per cent tax for the government, and then a ten per cent tithe for the priests (pastors). Joseph did not institute a 10 per cent tithe off the top because God did not require it! Pharaoh did, however, need funds to keep the government running.
Now that is the end of any Scriptures relating to anything close to what we would call tithing prior to the institution of the Mosaic Law. Clearly, if God had instituted a 10 per cent tithe prior to Moses, either the Biblical characters must have been unaware of it, or God did not make it very clear. The truth is, He never demanded or even suggested it.
The Mosaic Tithe
As we begin to try to decipher what tithing in Israel was all about after they left Egypt, keep James 2:10 in mind. This is a New Testament warning of the consequences of trying to mix the Old and New Covenant together.
"Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." The penalty is death!
The entire law goes way beyond the Ten Commandments. For instance, the one who wants to put the Mosaic tithe on others will also have to stone their rebellious son or daughter (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). This would eliminate quite a few second-generation preachers. Preacherís children are notorious for entering into much rebellion in their teen years due to having to project the right image all the time.
Anyone who has eaten a rare steak or catfish or shellfish is excommunicated from the congregation and separated from the blessings of God. (Lev. 17:14; Lev. Chapters 11 and 12) I wonít give all the references for some of the rest of these items tithe keepers must also keep. Leviticus and Numbers are full of laws most Christians would not like to place themselves under. Pork chops and bacon, of course, are definitely out. If your sisterís husband dies without producing children, her brother would have to give her children. Those who practiced a traditional Christmas would surely be guilty of idolatry and put to death. The images in most churches, especially those that have pictures of Jesus in them, would also qualify the pastors to be stoned.
I think you are beginning to get the point. Those who want to use the Mosaic tithing system to finance their churches and ministries are not willing to accept the rest of the package. I am afraid it was, is, and always will be a package deal, all or none. If you donít believe me, see what Paul called the Ten Commandments in 2 Corinthians 3:5-7.
"Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious."
And what was the glory of the Old Covenant, whose glory was passing away even as Paul was speaking? It was the ministry of condemnation! People who love to judge also love to condemn. They love to lift themselves up by putting others down. That is the ministry of the letter of the law; the ministry of condemnation; the ministry of death! And we wonder why there is so little life in the church.
I cannot get into a long discussion about Mosaic Law versus Grace through Jesus Christ. I just want to point out that Jesus Christ came to fulfill all the requirements of the Mosaic Law for us. The ultimate requirement of the Mosaic Law really boiled down to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. The sentence of death was on every single descendant of Adam. In Adam all died. It took the death of an innocent man to set those in Adam free. Life for life. All descendants of Adam (which is all mankind) died because of Adamís transgression.
"For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive Godís abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." Romans 5:17-19
(We have a lot of material on the subject of Grace through Faith versus Mosaic Law. We will be happy to send some to the reader if requested.)
Jesus walked this earth for 30 to 35 years sinless. When He died, He took away the sin (singular) of the world. He set those who died in Adam free. One day we will all come to this realization. Today, very few Christians really realize the far-reaching consequences of the righteous act of Jesus Christ.
But let us assume I am wrong. Letís say Jesus didnít fulfill all the requirements of the Law and therefore we are still under the Mosaic Law. Even if that were the case, the tithe that ministers are demanding is still not found in Mosesí Law.
A trip into a handful of Bible dictionaries should cure anyone of the simplistic idea that there is such a thing as 10 per cent off the top to a priesthood. Harperís Bible Dictionary under "tithe" on page 1078 tells us,
"Reconstructing a clear picture of the nature and function of tithing in biblical times is extremely difficult due to the conflicting accounts and the problems in identifying the dates and provenance of the texts. Apparently, tithing was understood and practiced differently at different times and localities throughout the Biblical period."
The above statement may come as a surprise to many people. This is very sad because it shows how little most of us know about the Bible. Many of those who teach tithing want it that way.
Brief History of the Mosaic Tithe
The five volume Dictionary of the Bible by James Hastings, under "tithe" tells us,
"The history of the tithe in Israel is in many respects obscure ... It is accordingly remarkable that no reference is made to tithes in the Book of the Covenant. This is usually explained on the theory that the tithes were originally identical with the first-fruits, and that the need of more strictly defining the amount that should be paid, led, in the later legislation, to the use of the term which had already been employed in the North Israel sanctuaries. W.R. Smith, on the contrary, thinks that the tithe was a fixed tribute, comparatively modern in its origin. At an earlier period the tribute took the form of first-fruits, which were a private offering. When this was no longer adequate to meet the expenses of a more elaborate cultus, the tithe was charged as a fixed burden on land."
Now this is most interesting. Experts in Old Testament studies tell us that tracing the "tithe" and how it was administered is "obscure." Yet many ministers quote two or three passages out of Leviticus, Exodus, or Malachi and tell us "ten per cent off the top and it should go to your local Ďchurch.í" Those of you who want to see for yourself rather than just believing a preacher because he said so, will discover the following:
- No tithe of any kind is found in the Book of the Covenant given by Moses which consisted of the Ten Commandments and various civil and religious requirements. Funds to provide for these activities came from free-will offerings. (see Ex. Chapters 20-23, Ex. 34:22,29; 36:3,7)
- Almost a year after the Book of the Covenant was written, a tithing system was instituted. (Lev. 27:30-33) "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORDís. It is holy to the LORD. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD." (Lev. 27:30-32) Please note some very important things here. The tithe was specifically directed to the "land, whether of the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree," and the animals which ate of the land. God specifically did not mention the fishing, mining, tent-making, lumber, or various professional occupations. The focus was a tenth of the seed and fruit of the land. Note that if a person wanted to pay money instead of the actual produce, he had to pay 20 per cent more! Obviously money was not what God was after. Furthermore, regarding the animals, it was the tenth one which passed under the rod which was to be tithed. A man with less than 10 animals did not have to tithe his animals! Also note, he could not redeem the animals, that is, he could not give money instead of the actual animal. Place a dead chicken in the offering plate next week and see whether your pastor is interested in your fulfilling the law or is he or she really more interested in your money. Their reaction to the chicken should tell you something.
- When looking at all the Scriptures in the Bible that deal with tithing, only the owners of the land and animals had to tithe those items. Servants or slaves who worked that land did not tithe; the produce did not belong to them!
- There may be one exception to the above point. 1 Samuel Chapter 8 tells us that the children of Israel at that time wanted to be like the other nations around them. They wanted a king. This displeased Samuel the prophet, greatly. Samuel prayed and Yahweh answered and said, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you; for they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them...Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them behavior of the king who will reign over them." (Use your imagination and bring this passage home, to today. Obviously, the chariots are no longer here; they have been replaced by cars, etc. We no longer have kings, but we have those who seem to act like kings.) "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. He 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. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And 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." (1 Samuel 8:4-18) Sad to say, many Christians today are not familiar enough with church history to discover that she also has rejected the LORD and has placed kings over her to rule her and be fleeced by them. Those who strongly teach tithing look very much like the "king" just described. And these kings separate us from our true King! Here is the modern church tithe!
- As Israel changed from nomads in the wilderness to a nation with boundaries and set cities, the regulations on tithing changed showing again there was never a set "Biblical tithe." Deuteronomy Chapters 12 and 14 tell us of some of the changes. Deuteronomy 12:8 tells us, "Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here (prior to entering Canaan) this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes." When Israel entered Canaan, they then set up a system which would distribute tithes, taxes, offerings, etc., which would logistically take care of a country 200 by 50 miles in area.
- Due to the inconvenience of having to carry grain and animals perhaps as far as 100 miles, the 20 per cent surcharge for converting to cash was dropped. (Deut. 14:24,25) Furthermore, they were allowed to "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." (Deut. 14:26)
- Deuteronomy Chapter 14:23 says in every third year the tithe of the produce was to be laid up for the Levite and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, that they may eat and be satisfied. Please note, we are talking about people not going hungry.
- One of the purposes for the tithe was to provide for the Levites. The Levites received a smaller allotment of land than the other tribes. The Levites provided not only much of the religious functions of the community, but judicial, governmental, and educational as well. In other words, the tithe was also used for secular purposes. Levites were often musicians, administrators, architects, judges, teachers, scribes, doctors, what we would call "professional people" today. The Levite would tithe the tithe given him and give that to the priests. The priests did not have to tithe. I realize most people equate Levites with priests, but somewhere in the history of Israel, two different classes developed.
- Those responsible for getting money out of their congregations often use Scriptures not even dealing with the tithe to teach tithing. The laws centering on first-fruits and first-born are different from the laws around the tithe. For firstlings see Num. 3:12,13, 40-45; 8:16-18. For first-fruits see Lev. 23:10-14; Num. 18:12-28. If we re-institute all these Mosaic Laws dealing with trying to get something out of Godís people, why not re-institute all of them? Of course, that would be ridiculous. We would have to start slaughtering lambs and killing rebellious children. Remember, he who fails in one point of the Mosaic Law, is guilty of it all!
- When the children of Israel were in their land, they were required to come to Jerusalem for three feasts each year. A portion of their tithe was to be used for them to rejoice! 10 per cent of gross income in addition to hefty federal, state, and local taxes is nothing to rejoice about especially since most churches donít allow one to use a portion of the tithe to "rejoice with wine or similar drink." The Mosaic Law commanded the children of Israel to come to Jerusalem three times a year. How many pastors force their congregations to take a trip to Jerusalem three times a year. This was just as binding as the Biblical tithe.
- It appears that tithing varied from year to year. Scholars (including Jewish Rabbis) are in disagreement with each other exactly how this was done. One scholar suggested that in the seven year sabbatical period, the first, second, fourth, and fifth year the tithepayer could eat of the tithe at the temple along with the Levites. In the third and sixth year, the tithe stayed in the tithepayerís home town instead of being brought to Jerusalem. This was to take care of the fatherless, strangers, widows, and Levites.
- In the seventh year, there was to be no planting, no reaping, and no tithing. (Lev. 25:1-7) Do tithe-preaching pastors give their congregation a break every 7 years? I havenít met one yet. (I told you they didnít get their tithing teachings from the Bible!)
- The Levites did not live completely off the tithe. They only ministered in the temple twice a year for a week at a time. (Ex. 23:14-17; Lev. 23; Deut. 16:16) They were allotted quite a bit of land around their home cities. (Num. 35:4) These fields belonged to the Levites for a perpetual possession. (Lev. 25:34)
- Only Levites could receive the tithe! Jesus Christ himself could not receive the tithe because He was from the tribe of Judah. Remember, the Mosaic Law is a contract in which all must be kept. It cannot be broken into pieces. The Levites are gone. Even modern Jews cannot tithe to them anymore.
- It is also important to note that the entire Mosaic Law system was only for Israel. This system did not require the Roman, the Greek, the Babylonian, the American Indian to tithe. One had to become a part of Israel through a system of ritual which began with circumcision for the male. Only after being accepted into the community of Israel were the Mosaic Laws binding. Furthermore, the tithe was at first only applicable to the land of Israel. When large populations of Jews lived in Babylon, Ammon, Moab, Egypt, and Syria, these lands became titheable land. But most gentile land was considered "unclean" by Jews and a tithe from them would not be found acceptable. The United States under the Mosaic Law commandments would certainly have been considered "unclean."
Modern Jews do not tithe
Jewish Rabbis today (those who should know the Mosaic Law better than pastors), do not collect tithes because they know only Levites can collect the tithe. Because the genealogical records were destroyed in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, they cannot determine true Levites. They use a patron system of so many dollars for each seat in their synagogues to raise funds for the maintenance of their synagogues. Of course, the more prominent seats command a higher price, but they do not tithe. Now isnít that amazing? I wonder how many ministers can prove biological descent from Aaron? Remember, this is not the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Well, I think we have covered enough ground on true Biblical tithing to show that what is pawned off today as the "Biblical tithe" is not only unscriptural, it is outright deceit!
Now as I say this, I realize there are thousands of sincere ministers and laypeople who are teaching and practicing tithing. Please understand. I am not attacking you. It is very easy to pass on the traditions of men and find ourselves ending up very ignorant of the Scriptures and the ways of our Father. Many who are reading this right now are probably amazed at how little they actually knew about what the Bible has to say about the tithe. O.K. Now you know. Now you are responsible for what you know. Repent. Turn. He is there to forgive and He has the power to turn all things to our good, including our mistakes.
Some who are tithing may not feel as bad about giving the tithe as those ministers who taught Christians to do it. But when one sees how much evil rather than good those tithes have actually done, they may see that repentance and Godly sorrow is needed. Study the cartoon at the end of this book. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how the religious system which instituted the tithe has created many obstacles for people coming to Christ. Furthermore, this system has prevented millions of Christians from entering into a deeper walk. It has prevented many Christians from entering into their gifts and callings. The tithing system has been used to institute a priesthood which is not lawful under the New Covenant. The system of tithing has been instrumental in creating a priesthood and laity structure which God did not intend under the administration of Grace. It has hindered millions of poor people from entering churches. The methods used to extract the tithe from people have turned many away from Christianity. Those who are proud "tithers" must see their participation in such a system is really nothing to be proud of. We have a very merciful Father Who is able to deal with our self-righteousness and haughtiness in just the right way. But we must come to Him allowing Him to reveal the error of our ways. We must become poor in spirit and humble of heart. And we must repent...turn from our dead traditions.
In analyzing that booklet Tithes, Offerings, and Alms, I noticed the author almost completely avoided all those Scriptures I just covered about true Biblical tithing under the Old Covenant. He quoted all kinds of unrelated Scriptures about Abrahamís sacrifice of his son, James writing about our faith being made perfect through works, Hannahís vow to God, giving alms to the poor, etc. But he almost completely avoided Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Exodus, and Numbers where the tithe is defined. Why? Because the 10 per cent of income which he preaches isnít in there! Most people never read that part of the Bible. As long as Christians will not study for themselves to show themselves approved, then perhaps they deserve to be fleeced by wolves in sheep's clothing!
Now this little booklet I have been referring to, refers to the Book of Malachi on a least 6 different occasionsófar more than any Books that actually lay down the laws dealing with Old Testament tithing.
"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ĎIn what way have we robbed You?í "In tithes and offerings. For you have robbed Me. Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.í" (Malachi 3:8-10)
How many times have you heard this passage used to put guilt on people for not coughing up the dough for a new parking lot, steeple, missionary fund, new organ, etc., etc.?
The main focus of tithing throughout the Old Testament was food!!! Food for the Levite, food for the stranger, food for the widow, food for the orphan and God doesnít change the subject in Malachi. The subject is still "food in My house." It is very sad that it never occurs to pastors of churches that the early church wasnít concerned about choir robes, pews, organs, pastor retirement funds, building funds, retreats, new carpets, etc. They didnít have any of these things nor did they want any of this stuff! Pastors who are so interested in that 10 per cent off the top are usually building their own kingdom which usually requires a lot of money. Jesus is building His church in an entirely different way, and He doesnít need padded pews, stained glass and steeples to get the job done.
The next time a pastor has one of the elders, deacons, traveling financial counselor, or evangelist put the guilt on you about tithing, buy a truckload of wheat and dump it on the pulpit and see his reaction. "Food in my house." You would have fulfilled the Old Testament Law perfectly, if you were a landowner and it wasnít the 7th year. If you brought the truckload in on the seventh year, you would have broken the law and would have been under a curse. Now isnít that amazing?
This is not to say there is no proper place for money in ministries. Of course, there are many financial needs even in Holy Spirit directed works. How this money is raised and how well it is managed and for what purpose is the real issue.
Is Tithing New Covenant?
This little booklet I have been referring to, says that tithing (meaning 10 per cent of your income), is also a New Testament ordinance. The booklet quotes:
"But woe unto you, Pharisee! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment, and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Luke 11:42)
From this Scripture, the writer of that booklet, deduced that 10 per cent off the top was a New Testament teaching. Let us see if this "reasoning" is correct.
Jesus was born under the law. The law would not pass away, not even one jot or tittle until all things be fulfilled. Just because Jesus spoke in Matthew does not mean it is New Covenant teaching. The New Covenant is not the set of books from Matthew to Revelation! The New Covenant was not ratified until Jesus offered up His blood in heaven which was after His resurrection! Prior to that, the Old Covenant, and the Levitical Priesthood was still in effect. Jesus Himself said to do what those who sit in Moses seat said to do. But donít do what they do. (Matt. 23:1-4) (Keep in mind, Jesus was speaking to Jews still under the Mosaic Law which was still in effect. Do not apply to yourselves what was spoken to another people under a different administration.)
Now isnít it interesting that what these Pharisees tithed was produce from the land. Even in what we call the New Testament, when the word "tithe" comes up, it always speaks of agricultural or animal products. We never see people tithing fish, gems, fabric etc. But even though they tithed even the smallest of seeds (agricultural), the word to them was "Woe" not "well done thou good and faithful tither." (Luke 11:42) The other account of a tither in the improperly named "New Testament" occurs in Luke 18:12-14. Between the tither who "fasted twice a week and give tithes of all that I possess" and the publican, a sinneróit was the sinner who "went to his house justified" and not the tither. So much for tithers being blessed.
It should be pointed out at this time, that Jesus condemned the Pharisee who tithed even the smallest of seeds, but neglected other parts of the law dealing with proper judgment and the love of God. "Woe 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."(Luke 11:42, Matt. 23:23) Keep in mind that when Jesus told the people to do what those in Moses seat commanded that He was not condoning their commands and actions. He was acknowledging the authority that God set up. The Levitical priesthood was the valid agency set up by Yahweh Himself. But when the tree did not produce the fruit of the kingdom, He cursed it. When one studies the fruit of the Law of Moses and the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, one will find great similarities and powerful truths. The law tells us what is good and evil, but it still can only bring us death for by the law "shall no one be justified."
The Mosaic Law was til the Promised Seed should come and that was Jesus, the Messiah.
There is one very difficult passage of Scripture in Hebrews which is often taken out of context to prove that the tithe was either pre-Mosaic, and therefore, still in effect or a part of the Mosaic law that we are still to perform. Rarely is this Scripture studied in its proper context. If it were, one would discover the passage does not deal with tithing, but a higher priesthood than the Levitical Priesthood, that is, the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
We find a rather confusing discussion about priesthood in the first part of chapter seven in the book of Hebrews. This book becomes a hopeless mass of confusion to most Christians unless they keep in mind who the book was written to (Jews), the time in which it was written and the purpose of the epistle.
First of all, this book was written to Jews who believed that Jesus (Yeshua) was the Messiah. They began to understand salvation by grace through faith, not of works, or genealogy, or nationality. Paulís gospel of grace was taking root. Although he was always battling the Judaizers who wanted to put the Mosaic law even on Gentiles, Paulís message of grace through faith, not of works (the law) was making inroads among the Jews. It was a difficult process. Even Peter had to be rebuked for his legalism at Antioch. (Gal. 2:11-16) But Paul was having some success. Then something very tragic happened. Most scholars put the writing of Hebrews in the 60ís A.D. In 64 A.D. the city of Rome was burned and Nero blamed it upon the Christians. Prior to this time, Christians were just another sect of Judaism, which was protected by Roman law as a legal religion. Neroís wife, Poppaea, was a "God-fearer," which was a person who had great respect for Judaism, but did not go so far as to become a Jew herself. When Rome burned, many citizens of Rome felt Nero burned it himself. To get the "heat" off of himself, so to speak, he looked for a group of people large enough to make a large display of and satisfy Romeís lust for blood in the circuses. The ordinary Jews who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah wanted Christians to be considered a separate religion anyway. They were trying to get these Christians killed wherever they were spreading their poison and so the stage was set to forever separate Christianity from its Jewish roots. Hundreds of Christians were huddled into Neroís Vatican Gardens known as the Hippodrome. For two days they were made one of the most despicable spectacles this world has ever seen. Read The Flames of Rome by Paul Maier for a graphical account of the butchery of hundreds of Hebrews and Gentiles who believed in the Messiah Yeshua. This event became the turning point at which Christianity was no longer a sect of Judaism, protected by the Roman laws which sanctioned Judaism. Christians now were considered "atheists" by the Romans. A religion without statues and temples was no religion at all. Many awful rumors were spread about the evil wicked things Christians did in their house meetings. For example, from the Lordís supper, rumors were spread that Christians killed children and drank their blood and ate their bodies. Much like today, these slanderous rumors were believed by many. Even those whose who did not believe them to be true, spread the rumors anyway, because these Christians did not also worship the Roman Gods and the state. The Caesars, at this point in history were also declared gods. Declaring loyalty to the state became synonymous to declaring Caesar as Lord. Most citizens of the Roman Empire had little difficulty with this. But for Christians, it meant betraying Christ.
I cannot go into great depth in this area because it would take too much time. I only bring these points out to show that many times we misinterpret many passages of Scriptures because we take verses out of context and time, which allows us to make them say anything we want them to say. This is perhaps one of the main reasons there are thousands of different sects of Christianity.
Now place yourself in the life of a Hebrew who now realizes that his belief in the Messiah could send him and his wife and children into the circus to be horribly mutilated and then killed. Faith in the Messiah now cost one their very life. Many thousands of believers felt is was safer to hide their belief and practice Judaism. After all, the temple was still standing, the sacrifices were still going on, and there were many Jewish-Christians who practiced the Law of Moses and grace through faith. After all, James, the head of the Jerusalem Church and those associated with him were "zealous for the law." (Acts 21:14-28) Keep in mind, this happened many years after Christís resurrection. Jewish Christians following James still practiced the whole Mosaic Law! So it was very convenient for Jewish Christians to slide back into the priesthood, old promises, old hope, and old covenant.
The writer of Hebrews spends a great deal of time explaining that the old system is but a "copy and shadow of the heavenly things." (Hebrews 8:5)
"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ĎSacrifice and offering You did not desire. But a body You have prepared for Me..." (Hebrews 10:1-5)
I wish Christians could really grab hold of what the writer of Hebrews was pointing to here and apply it to the whole Law of Moses, they would be free indeed! If Christians not only read, but actually believed in their hearts what the writer of Hebrews meant when he wrote: "then He said, ĎBehold, I have come to do Your will, O God.í He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat sown at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:9-13) God knew that the blood of bulls and goats could never clean our conscience of guilt and therefore under the law, we would always be under condemnation. (2 Cor. 3:9) We could never be set free in our minds. The Old Covenant sacrificing of bulls and goats was a temporary image of what Jesus Christ would do in actuality, that is, in the spiritual. One righteous act of the Lamb of God Who would "take away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) While many Christians have read this passage dozens of times, few truly understand the power and significance of the Lamb taking away the singular "sin" of the whole world. (This article will not deal with that subject.) However, if one can understand that the blood of bulls and goats were signs and shadows and not what God really wanted, perhaps we could see that the Creator of all could really care less about everything else we try to offer Him that are signs and shadows under the Law. The blood of bulls and goats centered around cleansing our conscience of guilt so that we could enter, not into the shadow Most Holy Place, but into the very Temple of God, sprinkled by His own blood, that is His life. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
We could spend a great deal of time discussing this topic, but the bottom of the line is that "the life is in the blood." (Deut. 12:32; Lev. 17:11,14) Abundant life is only possible with a pure heart, clean mind and sincere faith. One will only approach the Most High God in a state of sinlessness because sin will drive us away from the presence of God. It is not God driving us away, but our guilt and fear of punishment. Christ came to overcome this problem for us. Unfortunately, most Christians have fallen from grace, placed themselves back under some form of law-keeping and therefore live a defeated life back under condemnation. When we truly understand that we have access to the throne of grace not because of our own righteousness, but because of the righteousness of Christ which is accounted to us, then guilt no longer can keep us from the source of all power and life. My words cannot describe the reality of thisóonly when one truly experiences this can one understand this mystery. The blood of Abel spoke vengeance. Our Father said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." He said this knowing He could kill and make alive again. Man can only kill. Manís justice and mercy falls far short of the righteousness of God. The blood of Christ spoke forgiveness and mercy. And it speaks today still making intercessions for all mankind.
With all this in mind, what was the higher purpose of the tithe? What was it pointing to? Was there more to it than provision for the Levites, poor, widows, and the stranger? What was this mysterious 10 per cent of the spoils of war given to a priest who had no beginning or ending of days? Is God really interested in 10 per cent of anything we have? He makes it clear that while He commanded Israel to kill bulls and goats and offer them up to Him, He really did not delight in sacrifices.
If you go back to the garden of Eden, we discover that when Adam and Eve (and as a result all of mankind) were cast out of the garden and removed from the Tree of Life, the earth became cursed. From the sweat of his brow would man have to eek out a living for himself. In this fallen state, he became prey to fear of lack. From his own labor would come provision. But because of that fear of lack, man began to hoard, steel, manipulate things to have "more than enough" for himself. As man became more separated from God in his mind, he saw himself as the source of his own goods. He earned them, worked for them, wisely invested etc. Man forgot that all really belonged to God. Man forgot that we are just stewards of His possessions. The tithe, or anything offered back to God, whether Mosaic or pre-Mosaic, served as a reminder that the source of all things was God Himself! Giving part of oneís possessions to a person acting as a representative of God, reminded that individual that God is the ultimate supplier of all things. The grave is a good reminder that a person cannot take any of his earthly possessions with him. The tithe or any offering to a representative of God seems like a healthy reminder, but it failed, and it fails today. Instead, of producing gratefulness, thankfulness, and an awareness of the need for God, it produces pride in many of those who do tithe. It does not produce thankfulness for Godís provisions like a living relationship with Jesus does. Also, under the New Covenant, rather than giving 10 per cent of the increase of the agriculture and livestock, and other offerings reminding them of Godís provisions, the believer gives what he is called to give to the people of the world, not to a representative priesthood. Jesus tells us that when we do something for the least of His brethren, we do it unto Him. (Matt. 25:38-45) Here is the New Testament reality of the pre-Mosaic and Mosaic types and shadows. God is the giver and sustainer of all life. He is conforming us to His image and therefore we are also to give of our lives. He has prepared good works for us to walk in prepared from the foundation of the world. (Eph. 2:10) We should give of ourselves, which is really God giving through us, to His creation that His creation might be set free from the bondage of corruption. We should give, not from the letter of the law which kills, but from the Spirit Who prepared works for us to walk in. One comes from bondage to a set of laws, the other comes from love, which is the nature of God. The first usually produces pride and self-righteousness, the latter produces joy. The higher ways of God are much better than the lower ways of the Old Covenant. And that is what the writer of Hebrews was telling Jews who were fleeing persecution by retreating back to the law and Judaism. He told them it was no longer a refuge.
The writer of Hebrews was correct. Within a few years of his warning, in 70 AD, the whole Mosaic structure was destroyed. The Priesthood, the temple, the genealogical records, and Jerusalem were destroyed even to the tearing down the huge stones in the temple as Jesus prophesied. Judaism lost its special status with the Roman government.
It is sad to note, but much of Christianity has dug up much of the Old Covenant system and replaced the higher ways with the ways of death again. Few Christians are ambassadors of the New Jerusalem, the mother of us all. Most of Christendom has never risen out of the letter of the law and pagan practices. Few ever rise to the higher calling in Christ which the book of Hebrews so beautifully reveals. This is very sad, but true.
In summary then, the New Covenant did not begin with the Gospel of Matthew. It began when the heavenly things which the Mosaic and Solomic tabernacles and temples were just shadow of, were sprinkled by the very (life) blood of the True Lamb of God, Yeshua, the Messiah. Jesus spoke under the Law of Moses and told those in His audiences to keep it because they were still under it. He also told them not to do as those who interpreted the Law of Moses who "made the word of God of none effect by their traditions." When one studies the priesthood of Israel and its political, religious, and economic connections and practices, and compares them to the ecclesiastical systems of Christendom today, one may be amazed at the similarity. The tithe has certainly produced many physical temples (churches, monasteries, cathedrals, shrines, etc.), but it has not manifested in the true temple of God, his people, what the tithe was only a shadow of, that is, giving out of the spirit of love which does not give based upon percentages of income.
How the early church was financed
It should come as no surprise that the early congregations of Christianity were financed the same way the early Israelite society was financedóthrough a free-will offering, which according to Moses, was more than ample to provide that which was needed.
"Men and women, as many as were willing hearted, brought bracelets, and earrings, rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold ...the children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord ... They brought yet unto him (Moses) free offerings every morning ... the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." (Exodus 35:22, 29; 36:3,7)
When our Fatherís people give according to His heart and do the work He has called us to do in His way, those offerings of the heart will be sufficient and more than sufficient. The keys are the willing heart and the proper work!
Church historians make it very clear, the early Christian congregations were not financed by tithing of any kind. Apparently tithing promoters do not read very much early Christian history. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that "The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members." Hastingís Dictionary of the Apostolic Church says, "It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenths of possessions, for sacred purposes did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors." The Americana declares: "It (tithing) was not practiced in the early Christian Church." Even the Catholic Church, notorious for its many finance raising schemes, says in the New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The early Church had no tithing system ... it was not that no need of supporting the Church existed or was recognized, but rather that other means appeared to suffice."
The recently published Nelsonís New Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us that in "the New Testament, the words Ďtitheí and Ďtithingí appear only eight times (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42; Luke 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-6, 8-9). All of these passages refer to Old Testament usage and to current Jewish practice. Nowhere does the New Testament expressly command Christians to tithe."
It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church, which brought many Old Testament traditions and rituals back into the church in modified forms, at first did not partake in usury, that is, in interest on money. They felt usury was un-Biblical because of passages such as Exodus 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 23:19-20; Nehe. 5:7,10; Ps. 15:5. To finance their building programs and wars, the popes and kings assigned Jews in their court to do that kind of "dirty work." That was perhaps one of the leading contributors to the Jewish people becoming prominent in banking, that is, through being the Christianís money lenders.
Isnít it interesting that those who quote the Old Testament to support tithing for Christians mysteriously avoid scriptures dealing with charging interest as being unlawful? These same tithe promoters usually have plenty of money stashed into all kinds of interest bearing bonds, savings accounts, etc. As a matter of fact, every time a bullet or bomb is dropped to kill someone, thousands of churches across America make a profit. How so, you might ask? Churches and denominational headquarters have billions of dollars which are invested in hundreds of different profit-making or interest-bearing ventures. Most churches invest in conservative mutual funds with portfolios composed of Blue Chip companies such as defense contractors. Some of these same conservative companies are even controlled by religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church. When these defense contractors, like McDonnell Douglas, sell their war machines to our government, the stockholders, thousands of which are churches, make a profit. War machines are made to kill people. The church invests in many companies that make all kinds of products that kill or are harmful to humanity. One would be shocked to find out how much Christian organizations earn from the worldís military industrial complex. (For more information on this subject write for the audiotape The Church is a Rich Prostitute.)
It was not until after Constantine (fourth century A.D.) made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire that the free-will offering was replaced with various forceful means of raising money. Constantine began a huge building program, constructing churches and renovating pagan temples for use in what would become Roman Catholicism. Prior to this time, believers did not need ornate buildings. After all, they knew that they were the true temple of God, not some buildings constructed in the very same form as the pagan temples only with some Biblical themes added to them. A study of the things Constantine and his mother did to pervert Christianity would be a very worthwhile study.
So, back to New Covenant financing. Matthew through Revelations is really full of Scriptures that deal with proper giving. There are really too many to put into such a small publication. But a few will suffice.
Throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New, the God of Christianity makes it clear that He is really not interested in our "offerings of sacrifice."
"Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God! I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." (Psalm 50:7-15)
"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heartóthese, O God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:16,17) "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure." (Hebrews 10:5,6; Psalm 40:6-8)
Our Father makes it abundantly clear that we have nothing that does not even now belong to Him already. Offering 10 per cent of His goods or 90 per cent of His goods or all of it, means nothing to Him. He knows it all belongs to Him. We are the ones who seem to have the problem of forgetting that. What He is really after is our sincere thankfulness, our gratefulness for what He has given us!
Every person knows in their heart that God does not need stained glass windows, steeples, plush carpet, gaudy looking crosses, and a host of others things "tithes" are used to purchase. He would probably prefer a bull to a steeple. At least He made the bull, he didnít make nor authorize church leaders to make much of the "stuff" those tithes are spent on.
Let me ask you, "How did Jesus send out the disciples? Did He give them a Cadillac or an American Express Card in the name of the ministry like many modern American evangelists do today? No, He sent them out with nothing and they were provided for with all they needed as they went.
"Go your way; behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor script, nor shoes ... and in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the labourer is worthy of his hire ..." (Luke 10:3,4,7)
Perhaps it should be made clear at this point, that Jesus did not use any money in the Treasury of Israel of which tithes on the land and livestock were certainly a part. As mentioned before, Jesus, Himself, being from the tribe of Judah and not the tribe of Levi, could not legally receive tithes. Jesus was financed through free-will offerings from various people.
"And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herodís household manager, and Susanna, and many others, ministered to and provided for Him and them out of their property and personal belongings." (Luke 8:3)
Sometimes Jesus even provided for Himself miraculously as when He had Peter catch a fish with the Temple tax in it. (Matt. 17:24-27)
Paul did not Receive Tithes
Paulís missionary efforts should make it abundantly clear to everyone that the tithe, whether on agricultural products, livestock or 10 per cent of income, is not a New Testament teaching. Of all the New Testament writers, Paul of all people should have been able to use the Old Testament Scriptures to get people to tithe to him so that his expenses would be taken care of. But Paul did not quote a single tithing Scripture to make people give, not one. He most certainly could have, because the Temple and its sacrificial system was still going on during his life-time. But Paul knew only Levites could collect tithes. Paul could have made some Levites his treasurer and then gotten the tithes, but he did no such thing. When he quoted the Old Testament to justify receiving financial help from Christians, he quoted Deuteronomy 25:4, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." (1 Cor. 9:9) He quotes it again in 1 Timothy 5:17,18, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ĎYou shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the grain,í and ĎThe laborer is worthy of his wages.í" (The words for double honor in the Greek include monetary remuneration.)
Why didnít Paul just blast them with some real good strong tithe Scriptures and then throw the Malachi "you are robbing God" thing at them like many preachers do? Because Paul knew the Old Covenant much better than modern preachers do! He knew that there was a new temple, a new priesthood, and new covenant, and a new way of givingóout of the love of Christ in your heart! Just as our Father gaveó
"For God so loved the world that He gave ..." Here is our example of giving. "You have heard that it was said, ĎYou shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,í but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:43-48)
"Remember thisómeagre sowing means meagre reaping; generous sowing means generous reaping. Each person must make up his own mind what he is going to give. He must not give as if giving hurt him, or as if the money was being forced out of him. God loves a man who enjoys giving. God can give you more than enough of every good gift, enough for you to have plenty for yourselves always and in any circumstances, and to have enough left over to contribute to every good cause. As Scripture says: ĎHe gave generously to the poor; his kindness lasts for ever.í God, who gives seed to sow and bread to eat, will give you an abundant supply of seed, and he will make it grow into a plentiful harvest, which will be the result of your charity to others. He will always make you rich enough to be generous to every claim on you, and your generosity will make many people thank God when we have distributed it to those who need it; for this piece of Christian service, which you have accepted as your duty, not only supplies the needs of Godís people, it also overflows in a tide of thanksgiving to God. This service, which you are rendering, will be proof to those who receive it that you really are pledged to obedience when you publicly declare your faith in the gospel of Christ. They will also see how generously you share what you have with them and with all. And, when they see this, they will praise God for it. Because God gave you a superabundance of his grace, their warmest affection will go out to you, and they will be praying for you. Thank God for his gift, which has no price, and which is beyond words to tell of." (2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Barclay Translation)
Can it be any plainer? I suppose for those who have eyes and cannot see, they just will never be made to see. The Pharisee, whether Jewish or Christian will always put burdens upon other peopleís backs that they are unwilling to put upon themselves.
At the beginning of Paulís missionary work, he provided for himself from his tent-making abilities. "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ĎIt is more blessed to give than to receive.í" Many of his early converts were Jews. Surely, if Paul had legal rights to tithes, they would have given them to him. But it was not legal. Paul was a Benjamite.
Later in his ministry, when some churches had been established, he "robbed some churches to preach to others."
"Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God free of charge. I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you." (2 Cor. 11:7,8)
Some Christians do not give to ministries at all because they believe the minister should also have a job and take care of their own expenses. But they do not really take all the Scriptures into account when they come to that conclusion. Some Christians use the tent-making Scripture as an excuse to not support those who labor in Godís vineyard full-time. This excuse to hide their own selfishness is not supported very well in the Scriptures. All of us, who are Christians, are called to be full-time Christians. Unfortunately, too many Christians are Christians for two hours on Sunday and maybe an hour or so at mid-week. But there are also those who are called into full-time ministering in many different ways. Some of these, Paul says are worthy of "double honor." This Greek term includes far more than a "congratulations for a well-done job." The term speaks of financial remuneration as well. (1 Tim. 5:17)
"Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:13,14, NKJV)
Again, please note all of Paulís references to Old Testament types, and yet he never quoted any of the tithing passages. He didnít because he knew he was ministering from a different temple. He was a priest after a new priesthood, and he was ministering from a new place, not from the letter of the law that kills, but from the Spirit which gives life. Paul would never use some of the deceptive ways many ministers use to extort money from people.
I have seen ministers use the story of Ananias and Sapphira to firm up their Sunday message to get a good offering. This account in the book of Acts, however, has nothing to do with tithing. They probably gave much more than ten per cent of the sale of the property. It has everything to do with lying to God!
"You have not lied to men but to God." (See Acts 5:1-11)
Some denominational headquarters even go so far in twisting Scriptures that they say 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 says that church moneys should go to headquarters and then be redistributed.
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to churches of Galatia, so you must do also: on the first day of the week let each of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem."
Just a little bit of Bible and historical study should show that what Paul was storing up was food for the believers in Jerusalem who were experiencing a famine. Acts 11:27-30 tells us that:
"And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."
Just a little study into history using Bible dictionaries and chronological charts, we find Claudius Caesar reigning from 41-54 A.D. 1 Corinthians was written, according to scholars at the end of Claudiusí reign. The "collection for the saints" was a voluntary relief program made up of free-will offerings that were to be distributed to other believers in distress! Again, we do not hear the word "tithe." In fact, if one goes to a concordance and looks up the word "tithe" or "tithes," and searches through Paulís pastoral epistles, letters leaving instruction to church leaders on how to conduct church business, he fails to mention these two words even once! That should tell us something. Furthermore, when one looks at the percentages of the tithe sent to oppressed brothers and sisters in third world nations, one will discover that the tithe-taking churches of today are much less humane than the free-will offering churches of the first century.
Jesus Never Received Tithes
The life of Jesus should be an example to us on giving. If He collected tithes, perhaps, a minister could make a reasonable argument for collecting tithes, but He did not. "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2 Cor. 8:9) "Freely have ye received, freely give." (Matt. 10:8)
There are some who reason that since Jesus is the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and since Abraham offered him tithes, ministers should receive tithes because they, being a part of Christ, are part of that priesthood. Therefore, they should receive those tithes. While on the surface that may have a ring of reasonableness to it, there are enough holes in this line of reasoning to sink a ship.
As mentioned before, Abraham tithed only the spoils of war and he did not keep the rest. He gave it all away, much of it to the king Sodom. Furthermore, Christian ministers today cannot be called a Melchizedek priest. This priesthood is "unchangeable." (Hebrews 7:24) The literal rendering of this passage in the Greek means "a priesthood which passeth not from one to another." There can be no successor to Melchizedek. Jesus Christ is the only One Who can fill that position. Ministers here on earth, even good ones die, proving their priesthood here on earth has an end. To make the matter even more difficult for those who refuse to let go of their lust for money to finance their kingdoms, Peter tells us that the called-out ones, the ekklesia, the church is a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood ..." (1 Peter 2:9) Thatís all of us! You are a priest. Are we all supposed to tithe to each other? I am sure that is not what tithing ministers want. They want your tithes given to them. But according to their own reasoning, you have just as much right to demand that they tithe to you, since you are a part of the same priesthood.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that those teaching tithing as a New Covenant law or principle are actually the very ones who are robbing God. How so you ask? Well, as many passages of Scriptures make abundantly clear, under the New Covenant, there is a new temple, new priesthood, and a new law. The Old Covenant had Levites and priests, the New Covenant has apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The New Covenant has "gifts of men." (Eph. 4:8) It also gave through the Holy Spirit "gifts to men." We find some of them listed in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. This is the main list Pentecostals and Charismatics use to prove supernatural gifts are for today. Unfortunately, too few are aware of another list of gifts equally needful and equally New Testament. We find that list in Romans Chapter 12:4-8. Non-Charismatics and Pentecostals are probably more familiar with this list. One of the gifts listed is the gift of giving.
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophesy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." (Rom. 12:8)
Now if the Holy Spirit divides the gifts as He wills, then different members of the body do different things and are equipped differently to do their job. The tithe demands, according to tithe proponents, 10 per cent off the top from everyone. But there are those who are specifically given the "gift of giving." What if God blesses a man in a business venture that makes that man a billionaire. What if God has given him the gift of giving and he is to give away 99 per cent of what he earns? But when he is taught that if you are a tither you are doing great, he will not actually give the full amount of what God called him to give! The man then ends up boasting in giving his ten per cent, is nominated to be treasurer of the church, and yet is not bearing the fullness of the gift he has been given to bless the body of Christ and the world.
Remember the parables about the talents distributed unevenly among people? I believe there have been men and women in the body of Christ who should have given billions of dollars away who, because of this false teaching on tithing, have fallen short in fulfilling their giving. So those who teach the tithe have lead many to live by the Mosaic Law instead of being lead by the Holy Spirit.
I have found that many Christians who do tithe are also self-righteous. Why? Because mixing law and grace produces thatóself-righteousness, the spirit of the Pharisee. "I thank God I am not like them. I fast twice a week and tithe even the smallest of seeds. Surely God must be pleased with me." What should our attitude be like?
"And the apostles said to the Lord, ĎIncrease our faith.í So the Lord said, ĎIf you have the faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ĎBe pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,í and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ĎCome at once and sit down to eat.' But will he not rather say to him, ĎPrepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterwards you will eat and drink.í? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ĎWe are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.í" (Luke 17:5-10)
When we truly understand "grace," when we really understand that everything we have, our material goods, our spiritual gifts, our very lives are but a gift from God, then we cease our boasting. Show me a Christian, minister or layman, who mixes the Mosaic Law with Grace, and I will show you a Christian Pharisee. I know. I have been one for a number of years! Tithing, because it is not for the dispensation of grace, (and the tithing modern Pharisees preach is not even Biblical) can only produce self-righteousness. Grace Christians give because that is their nature, the nature of our Father Who rains on the just and the unjust. He is the sustainer of all and we are conforming to His image.
Those who teach the modern day tithe rob Godís people of the rest which He promised them. Christians striving to keep the Mosaic Law while at the same time trying to live the life of Grace are the most miserable of creatures. The torments to the soul are endless.
"Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter the rest, as He said: ĎSo I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,í although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Hebrews 4:1-3)
You see, Christians lead by the Holy Spirit cease from their works and enter into the works of the Lord prepared for them from the foundation of the world. A tither cannot enter this rest. They are always giving to something which will build a manís kingdom, something which will produce pride instead of the fruit of righteousness.
Any work our Father gives us to do, He also gives us the means to do it. They are His works and we are blessed to partake in them. There is no striving even though the works may be difficult. But the works, which come from this law and grace mixture, of which this modern tithing teaching is certainly a partóthese works are laborious indeedóexcept perhaps for the one who is collecting the proceeds from them and using them for their own kingdom building programóa kingdom made in the image of man that is destined to fall. Babylon is not being built by ancient Babylonians anymore; the building of the tower of Babel has been taken over by christendom.
Most born-again Evangelicals, Pentecostals, or Charismatics feel they are being "lead by the Holy Ghost." This is the environment in which I have spent much of my Christian life. There is just as much deception, if not more here, than in the mainline denominations, which most "born-again" Christians consider dead. Religious spirits and the Holy Spirit are not the same thing! We need to humbly ask our Father to reveal the difference to each of us.
Trillion Dollar Church!
The American church system through its thousands of schemes to gather money, has amassed over a trillion dollars worth of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance programs, real estate, etc. The interest they pay on the mortgages of their buildings could literally feed all the poor in the world! The deceptive means 10ís of thousands of ministers use to raise money, of which the modern tithe is one of them, has drained our country of resources that could tremendously bless the world. But the church is sitting on the money. Now they are beginning to be fleeced themselves.
Recently, hundreds of the leading Christian organizations lost millions of dollars investing in a fund named "New Era." It was a scam called a "Ponze scheme." An evangelical, named Bennett, dropping the right names such as Billy Graham and Rockerfeller, convinced most of the leading Protestant ministries to invest as much as over 500 million dollars into a fund that promised them a doubling of their money over a 6 month period of time. Now anyone with a little sense should smell something amiss here, especially since conservative Christians should be looking at conservative investments that usually give a low return on investment. But top Christian ministries invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a fund started by another Christian, whose sole purpose in setting up the fund was to defraud them of their, or should I say "your" money. The federal authorities finally shut it down, but not before millions of dollars were lost. (See Dew from Mount Hermon, issue number 7 for more details.)
A person who teaches tithing robs Godís people from hearing from God Himself about what and whom to give to each and every day. Someone who pays their taxes, and gives 10 per cent of their income to their pastor, plus offerings for missions, building fund, bake and rummage sales, etc., because the law or tradition of their organization pressures them to do so, is likely to develop an attitude that their giving is finished at the offering plate. They are so drained of finances that when Jesus arrives at their door for a piece of bread, their response might be, "Oh, I gave already at the church!" Laws such as the modern tithing law, instituted by either ignorant or deceiving ministers keep Godís children from hearing what they should be doing on a day to day basis! Yes, Mr. or Mrs. or Reverend Tithing Teacher, you are robbing Godís people, God, and the world from the blessings He wants to pour out on them and through us! Now repent and stop it! His mercy endures forever! Go to the fountain of Grace and discover how to enter into His rest yourself! Then and only then can you lead Godís sheep into that rest themselves. Until then all you will do is fleece them and eat them yourself!
"Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them." (Ezekiel 34:2-4)
"My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill. They have forgotten their resting place. All who found them have devoured them." (Jeremiah 50:6-7)
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that those who mix Mosaic Law and Grace, or worse, twist the Mosaic Law to say what it doesnít say, are robbing God even though they may not be aware of it. They are also robbing themselves of much needed rest, and they are robbing the world around them from the true blessings they are to bestow upon their neighbors.
This world needs Christians full of the works of the Lord prepared from the foundation of the world, not weak, beaten, and fleeced sheep who look like they havenít had a dayís rest since they became Christians because they are always so busy building their ministerís kingdom while thinking they are doing Godís work. Yes, Mr. or Mrs. or Reverend Tithe Collector, I am being very hard right now. But so have you been! It is time for it to stop! Now!!
I am not speaking from a "holier than thou" position here. I have been duped by this false system and I have used guilt-centered ways to get people to support some of the work I have done. "I am a man of unclean lips living in the midst of an unclean people," as Isaiah said. There is a right way to teach proper Christian giving. I do not say I have all the answers on the subject, but some of the methods and techniques we, (Christians in ministry) use to extract funds, are just outright sacrilegious!
I used to feel so unclean whenever I brought a visitor to a church who had to listen to an elder, deacon, evangelist, or the pastor himself spend a great deal of time laying on the guilt to make sure the offering was a "good" one. "Bring in your tithes and offerings unto the Lord." And then the plates, buckets, envelopes, bags, anythingówhatever would hold a lot of cash would get passed around the church. Of course, every one could see whether you placed anything in the plate or not. In some churches, the pressure was even worse, they made you go up to the altar with your offering. I have been in churches where they passed that plate as many as 7 times in one service until the pastor felt there was enough in it. And we wonder why people donít want to go to church. As far as I am concerned, no visitor should be pressured to give anything to a church. As a matter of fact, the fund-raising activity should be such that a visitor does not participate in that activity.
The Scriptures are abundantly clear, that the work of the Lord is to be done by His people, not the people of the world.
Churches are full of people who do not have a living relationship with our Father. They may bring in the bucks, but this mixture always corrupts downward to carnality and not upward toward the works of the Holy Spirit.
Free to Give Freely
Does not being under the Mosaic Law and its ordinances free us from the obligation of giving? Yes, and no. If you are giving out of fear placed in you by hard task masters (often in the form of ministers), or giving in order to get more back or a host of other reasons for giving stemming from fear and selfishness, then you are free to stop giving. He can keep this universe going without your help, financial or otherwise. God does not want your money! It is all His anyway. We just keep forgetting that. Perhaps the grave is a good reminder of that fact. See how much of what you think is yours will still belong to you on the other side of the grave. Some of us will be amazed at our emptiness, how little we actually have gathered in this lifetime. It is not too late to begin gathering things that will be yours to keep on the other side. Begin to ask the Holy Spirit about these kinds of possessions.
He wants our hearts! And when He has our hearts, He will fill them with Himself and we will give because that is His nature. He is a giver. Apart from His giving, the universe would cease to exist. It is by the giving of Himself that all things are sustained. He wants to give Himself through us. Why? Because He wants to bless us! He wants us to experience what it is to be like Him. He pours Himself out to the object of His love. As we give Him to the world through our obedience to the Law of the New Covenant, the law of Love (John 15:12,13), we give from His will, His gifts, His nature, His fruit, and we partake of it as we give it. He wants you to pass it on... and He wants to give it back. How?
"íI was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.í"
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ĎLord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?í And the King will answer and say to them, ĎAssuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.í" (Matt. 25:35-40)
When we become the instruments in His hands to bless His creation, we ourselves are blessed. It truly is better to give than to receive. He made it that way. The only way one can be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ is to give. We are all in need of the Holy Spirit to convict us of our selfish ways so that we can be truly changed within.
We pray this publication will be helpful to the body of Christ in discerning the proper way to give and help to discern what kind of Christian activities to support. Much of what goes on in the name of Christ is nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble. May you be found faithful with the talents He has given you. May this publication be found helpful to you in the matter of giving.
We realize those ministers who repent and change their methods of fund-raising, will experience some profound changes. An organization viewed as a cult by most Evangelicals has recently changed its teachings regarding tithing. It used to teach the modern day tithe and in some years, a second and third tithe. It has dropped this teaching. This organizationís income dropped thirty per cent in the first year of the change. Programs such as their orchestra program had to be dropped.
And there is the rub. The cost of changing to Scriptural means of support will cost too much. Many ministers are not willing to let die the many projects they have begun. They would rather see the world starve to death than to dismantle their Christmas Cantata program, or their new steeple fund.
While we may think that only those who have been teaching this un-Biblical tithe should repent, it is just as important for those who have been tithing to clearly see that much of the fruit of their tithing has not produced good fruit; instead much of it has alienated the world from Christianity. In other words, we must all repentóthose who teach it and those who give it.
In summary, because the tithe as taught by modern churches is not the New Testament way of giving, it will not produce the fruit of the New Covenant, neither for the people who tithe, nor the "programs" for which the money is used. Should we give? Graciously and abundantly! Should we support those who minister the Gospel? Even to the point of giving "double honor." They who preach the Gospel have a right to live from the Gospel (1Cor.9:3-13), even though it is often abused.
All Christians must never forget, however, that those in leadership and those not in leadership are priests, a royal priesthood. You, my dear Christian brother or sister, are to be a blessing to the world because you are ladened with gifts from above which He has called you to manifest in the earth. It is time to stop supporting wolves in sheep's clothing and be about your Fatherís business. This will restore the joy of your salvation.
"Remember thisómeagre sowing means meagre reaping; generous sowing means generous reaping. Each person must make up his own mind what he is going to give. He must not give as if giving hurt him, or as if the money was being forced out of him. God loves a man who enjoys giving. God can give you more than enough of every good gift, enough for you to have plenty for yourselves always and in any circumstances, and to have enough left over to contribute to every good cause." (2 Cor. 9:6-8)
"You must love your enemies; you must be kind to them; you must lend without hope of getting anything back. If you do that, you will receive a rich reward, and you will be like the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and to the mean. You must show yourself merciful, as your Father is merciful.
Do not make a habit of judging people, and you will not be judged yourselves. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Be generous, and you will find others generous to you. Good measure, close-packed, and shaken down, brimming over, will be poured into your lap. You will get in exactly the same proportion as you give." (Luke 6:35-38, William Barclay Translation)